Dewani trial briefly postponed

By Drum Digital
13 October 2014

Shrien Dewani's trial, for the murder of his wife Anni, was briefly postponed in the Western Cape High Court.

British businessman Shrien Dewani's trial, for the murder of his wife Anni, was briefly postponed in the Western Cape High Court.  His lawyer Francois van Zyl continued with the cross-examination of one of her convicted killers, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, and accused him of being the man who pulled the trigger on November 13, 2010.

Van Zyl said all the evidence pointed to him pulling the trigger and not his accomplice Xolile Mngeni, who is serving life in jail.

"I have to put it to you, sir, that your version that Mngeni shot the deceased is not true. What do you say to that? You were the person who shot the deceased," Van Zyl said.

"At the time you were doing so, based on the objective facts, you were most probably standing at the left rear door, pulling her with your right hand, threatening her with the pistol against her chest."

Qwabe disagreed with Van Zyl and stuck to his version that he was driving the vehicle when he heard the shot being fired.

Van Zyl also alluded to the shooting as being accidental and a plan gone wrong to hold Anni hostage in return for a handsome ransom.

This was denied by Qwabe.

Dewani is accused of masterminding his wife Anni's murder during their honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, on November 13, 2010.

Van Zyl then revealed that Qwabe had wanted an earlier parole date in exchange for testifying against his client.

Qwabe confirmed he had previously testified against Mngeni and wanted to know "what is in it for me?" with Dewani's trial.

Van Zyl said Qwabe recently used a Legal Aid lawyer to write a letter to prosecutor Adrian Mopp, asking him to consider that he be eligible for parole after serving half of his 25-year sentence, not two-thirds as ordered by the high court.

Reading out a portion of the reply from the director of public prosecutions, Van Zyl said the State stated it could not provide any guarantees or influence the outcome of the process.

However, at the conclusion of the trial, it could report to the correctional services department on the court's findings on his testimony and his co-operation.

He was excused from the stand.

The State then called its third witness, Simon Johnson, 33, the former digital product manager of the Gaydar website, to testify on Dewani's profile, 'ASIANSUBGUY'.

In a British accent, he explained that the customer for this profile had ticked "single gay man" for describing himself, out of a number of options including "single bi[sexual] man".

Under sexual orientation, he chose "gay".

Dewani had also selected "no" for the section asking whether the individual had disclosed their sexuality publicly.

Johnson said Dewani's profile indicated he was looking for a single gay man, a single bi man, a gay couple or a group.

This information seemed to contradict Dewani's plea explanation, in which he described himself as bisexual.

The prosecution went through a table of logins and logoffs for the profile in question with Johnson, confirming Dewani had visited the site on November 12, November 15 and November 16 in 2010.

During cross-examination, Van Zyl put it to him that logging onto a gay dating website did not necessarily mean his client was looking for a date.

"The fact that he was signed on Gaydar does not mean he was looking for a date. He could be checking or sending messages," he said.

Johnson confirmed he could not see from his records what Dewani had been doing while logged on.

The profile was deactivated on November 21, 2010.

Van Zyl said he would lead evidence if necessary to show that his client's sister, Preyal, had removed the profile using his user name and password.

"It was done at that stage because the media was looking for anything on the accused and the family decided to remove it," he said.

Johnson was excused from the stand.

Dewani's trial will resume on Tuesday, when a new State witness is expected to be called.


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