Judge considers halting Dewani case

Judge considers halting Dewani case

A judge in South Africa is expected to consider today whether the case against Shrien Dewani should be thrown out.

The 34-year-old care home entrepreneur has always denied plotting with others to kill his new wife Anni on a luxury honeymoon in Cape Town four years ago.

Prosecutors claim the millionaire, who is bisexual, wanted out of his marriage and arranged a “hijack-gone-wrong” in which Mrs Dewani would be killed and her husband escape unharmed.

But Western Cape High Court judge Jeanette Traverso has dismissed sections of the state’s case, describing evidence about Dewani’s sex life as irrelevant, while prosecution witnesses have included men already convicted of Mrs Dewani’s murder.

And Dewani’s defence counsel, Francois van Zyl, said they would make an application to the judge under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which provides that the court may return a not-guilty verdict if the judge feels there is insufficient evidence to convict at the close of the prosecution’s case.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and gunman Xolile Mngeni.

The defendant, extradited from the UK after a lengthy Home Office battle, claims the couple were hijacked while Tongo drove them through the rough Gugulethu township in his taxi on Saturday November 13 2010.

He was released unharmed but his wife was driven away. Her body was found in the abandoned taxi in Khayelitsha the next morning. She had been shot.

The state alleges that Dewani conspired with others to stage the hijacking, for which he paid 15,000 rand – less than £1,000 at the 2010 exchange rate. Dewani maintains the money was actually for a surprise helicopter trip which Tongo was helping to arrange.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term and Qwabe is part-way through a 25-year jail term. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Mrs Dewani, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.

Monde Mbolombo, a self-confessed “link man” in the plot, has already been told the immunity granted to him in return for being a state witness may no longer stand.

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