Shrien Dewani urged to explain himself on the witness stand

Shrien Dewani murder case is 'based on conspiracy'

Anni's family want Shrien Dewani to face unanswered questions from night of murder

LAST UPDATED AT 14:01 ON Tue 25 Nov 2014

The family of murdered bride Anni Dewani has urged her husband Shrien Dewani to go on the witness stand and answer the allegations against him.

Shrien's lawyers yesterday argued that the case against their client should be thrown out due to the lack of evidence put forward by the prosecution. Defence lawyer Francois Van Zyl said the state's key witness was "completely unreliable" and that his evidence was "not worth the paper it's written on".

The trial has now been adjourned until next month while Judge Jeanette Traverso considers whether the case should proceed.

Shrien has reportedly packed his bags in the hope that she will dismiss the charges against him and allow him to return to England as a free man without having to give evidence in court.

But Ashok Hindocha, Anni's uncle, has issued a statement calling on Shrien to go into the witness box and tell the court what really happened.

"We want to hear it in his own words," he said. "We have waited four years for this to happen and it would not be right if he does not do it."

Hindocha said that hearing Shrien's own version of events was "crucial" for the family to reach closure. "He has admitted that he had been having sex with gay prostitutes through his lawyers, and that was a shock to us," he added. "But we as her family desperately need Shrien to go through the events of her murder so that the whole story is told fully and no questions are left unanswered."

Today, the court has been hearing from prosecutor Adrian Mopp, who is arguing that the trial should continue and that Shrien's evidence should be tested.

Shrien is accused of plotting to have his wife murdered on their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Here is what we have heard so far today: 

1.00pm: Prosecutor Adrian Mopp continues his argument after the lunch break. He has already told the court that Anni's convicted murderers are "not the A-team of contract killers" and could barely organise transport to the intended murder spot. "We are dealing with an amateurish attempt," he told the judge. "If it were not for the killing of the deceased, it would actually be comical, the manner in which this matter was set about." Mopp says there would have had to have been a "conspiracy within a conspiracy" to falsely implicate Shrien Dewani. "It's almost beyond them," he says.

Defence lawyer Francois Van Zyl is given a chance to respond to the prosecution. He points out that even if Shrien turned out to be an appalling witness it would not make the testimony of key witness Zola Tongo any more credible.

The trial is adjourned until 8 December to give Judge Traverso time to decide whether to continue the trial or allow Dewani to walk free without having to take the witness stand.

11.00am: Prosecutor Adrian Mopp argues that Shrien's version of events should be tested. He has pointed to several problems with the defence's case. Shrien claims he had no idea that the taxi he and Anni were travelling in would be hijacked, let alone that his wife would be shot. Mopp asks if it was therefore merely a coincidence that Anni supposedly wanted to return to the Gugulethu township at the exact time that their taxi driver had planned to run into the two hitmen. "The court is led to believe that it is completely fortuitous that two people are waiting and, lo and behold, the deceased wanted to go back into the township at that exact time?" said Mopp.

He also notes that Dewani never mentioned to Anni's family that he went to change money on the morning of her murder or that he had been planning a helicopter trip, as he later claimed in his written statement. "The accused's explanation has not been tested," says Mopp. "There is no reference. This is an important bit that cannot be ignored."

 

Shrien Dewani murder case is 'based on conspiracy'

24 November

The case against murder suspect Shrien Dewani is "based on conspiracy", his lawyer has argued in court today. The defence team is trying to persuade Judge Jeanette Traverso to throw out the case against Shrien, who is accused of plotting to have his wife Anni Dewani murdered on their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. If the defence is successful, Shrien could walk free from Western Cape High Court as an innocent man. 

So far in the trial, the judge has heard from 16 witnesses called by the prosecution. The key witnesses were three men who admitted involvement in the plot to murder Anni. Zola Tongo and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, both jailed for Anni's murder, and middleman Monde Mbolombo, granted immunity for testifying in an earlier trial, all pointed the finger at Shrien. However, the defence showed repeated inconsistencies in their evidence. Here is what we have heard today:

1.30pm: After lunch, Van Zyl continues to argue that taxi driver Tongo's evidence is "not worth the paper it's written on". Again, he suggests that Qwabe was the one who shot Anni, not Mngeni as previously believed. Something was "amiss" in Qwabe's testimony, says Van Zyl. For example, why did they shoot her in a residential area rather than a more discreet area? He also points out that the witnesses contradicted each other about who was sitting where in the stolen taxi. "Qwabe's evidence that Mngeni shot the deceased was a lie. Why is he lying?" asks the lawyer.

Judge Traverso reveals some of her own concerns about the state's evidence and even jokes about one state witness, saying she "won't ask" Van Zyl about the reconstruction done by one police ballistics expert. "What concerns me about this conspiracy is that we have a very clear agreement as to how much money was going to be paid, where they were going to meet the hijackers, who was going to be put off where," she says. "And then the plan just falls flat. What was going to happen to the car? Where would she be killed?" After Judge Traverso tells Van Zyl he does not need to address Mbolombo's evidence, the lawyer wraps up for the day.

10.00am: Defence counsel Francois van Zyl points out the "huge difference" in material evidence from the key witnesses. Tongo claims Shrien said he wanted a "business partner" killed, yet Qwabe and Mbolombo – who only ever communicated with Tongo, not Shrien – said that a husband wanted his "wife" killed.

"It is crucial for the state's case to prove that the accused entered into the alleged conspiracy agreement with Tongo," says the lawyer. But he points out that Tongo's evidence contradicted some of the common cause evidence, such as CCTV footage. "Why do we have these contradictions? Only if the man is not telling the truth."

9.00am: Van Zyl begins telling the court why Shrien's case should be thrown out. "The whole case is based on conspiracy," he says. The evidence from taxi driver Zola Tongo is the "pillar on which the state's case is built", says Van Zyl, but Tongo proved himself to be a "completely unreliable witness". The testimonies of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Monde Mbolombo rely "entirely" on what Tongo told them. But the lawyer says Tongo's evidence was of "poor quality" and that there is "no credible evidence on record, on which the court can convict".

Van Zyl asks the judge to consider how probable it is that a foreigner arrives in South Africa, takes a taxi and, within half an hour, arranges a murder with his driver. Tongo could not even remember if the subject of payment had been discussed before he sought a hitman and, in his original statement, makes no mention of the R5,000 he later claimed he was offered. 

Van Zyl says it is also a "huge improbability" that Shrien would short-change two dangerous killers by a third of his promised payment, as claimed by the prosecution, paying them just 10,000 rand (£580 at today's exchange rate) for the hit, rather than the 15,000 rand he had promised.

 

Shrien Dewani trial: police question who paid for hitman's funeral

21 November

South African police are reportedly trying to find out if the mystery donor who paid the legal fees for one of Anni Dewani's murderers also funded his funeral last month.

Xolile Mngeni was sentenced to 25 years for firing the shot that killed Anni on 13 November 2010, but died in prison last month after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

During his 2012 trial, Mngeni's private lawyer Matthews Dayimani revealed that his fees were being paid for by an anonymous human rights organisation "interested in the case".

Pressed further by reporters outside court, Dayimani said the donor was a Kenyan man named Edmondo. "He is a legal consultant working on his own," said the lawyer.

At the time, Dayimani dismissed speculation that Shrien Dewani was in any way connected to the donor. He also told South Africa's Daily Voice that he had no direct dealings with "Edmundo" and that it was Mngeni's family who had been in touch with the mystery man.

Two years later, the donor's identity has still not been revealed and, according to South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper, police are trying to find out if he is the one who paid for Mngeni's funeral last month.

Dayimani said he contributed to Mngeni's funeral parlour costs and believed Mngeni's extended family paid for the rest. He added this week that Mngeni's legal costs were also partly funded by his own pro-bono work, which he said "almost bankrupted" him.

The Mail and Guardian says it still "begs the question why a donor or foreign human rights group would fund the large legal costs of a man who had chosen a life of crime, and whose criminal record was a serious indictment of the South African judicial system".

Shrien Dewani's lawyers are currently trying to have his case thrown out. His is accused of paying Mngeni and two other men to kill his wife in a fake carjacking during their honeymoon in Cape Town. However, legal experts have suggested the state has failed to provide enough evidence to prove his guilt.

There were no plans for Mngeni to be called as a witness during Dewani's trial. After initially admitting to Anni's murder, Mngeni changed his plea to not guilty and said he had been tortured by police into confessing. He turned down Legal Aid representation and arrived at court with private lawyers.

Shrien's trial will resume on Monday.

 

More about Shrien Dewani:

Shrien Dewani: why murder trial could collapse in a weekMiddleman said killing was 'Islamic thing'Graphic emails barred by court in blow for stateShrien Dewani reveals he is bisexual on first day of murder trialShrien Dewani described himself as 'perverted' on GaydarShrien Dewani reveals he is bisexual on first day of murder trial Shrien Dewani: what we know about the honeymoon murder caseMurder suspect loses bid to block extradition Shrien Dewani family welcome 'significant' Panorama findings

  · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.