The National Prosecuting Authority said on Monday it respects the decision to acquit British businessman Shrien Dewani on charges of killing his wife Anni.
“When you take matters to court, we’re always alive to the fact that there are two possibilities: either there is conviction or there is acquittal,” NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said outside the Western Cape High Court.
He said prosecution could not stop simply because of the possibility of acquittal.
The NPA’s responsibility was to take matters to court where it believed there was sufficient and credible evidence, he said.
Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso on Monday granted Dewani’s application for his discharge on the charge of the killing of his wife Anni in 2010.
“There is no evidence on which a reasonable man can convict the accused,” she said.
It was her opinion that the evidence presented fell far below the required threshold. She said it was regrettable that many unanswered questions remained about what happened the night Anni was killed, but she could not be swayed by public opinion.
“If any court allowed public opinion or emotion to influence the application of the law it would lead to anarchy,” she said.
The only possible reason to refuse Dewani’s application was in the hope of him implicating himself during his evidence, which Traverso said would be an injustice.
Dewani walked out of the dock and down the stairs to the holding cells without any expression on his face. His family burst into tears and people in the public gallery shouted for the State to appeal.
After a lengthy and costly extradition process, Dewani went on trial in October for allegedly plotting with shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.
He pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder, and defeating the ends of justice. He claimed the couple was hijacked while Tongo drove them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13, 2010.
He was released unharmed and Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.
Outside court, Anni’s sister Ami Denborg said on behalf of the Hindocha family that the justice system had failed them.
“We came here looking for answers, we came here looking for the truth and all we got was more questions,” she said.
“All we wanted was to hear all the events and the hope of actually finding that out has kept us as a family going.”
She said this had been taken away from them.
“The knowledge of not ever knowing what happened to my dearest little sister on 13 November 2010; that is going to haunt me, my family, my brother, my parents, for the rest of our lives.”
She thanked the public and others who had offered their support and said she hoped no other family would ever have to go through what they had been through.
Anni’s parents and brother shed tears as they spoke to the media and were comforted by a number of supporters standing around them.
Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term and Mziwamadoda Qwabe a 25-year jail term. Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.
Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution on two charges during Mngeni’s trial.
Traverso ruled on Monday that she would not grant him immunity on the same charges Dewani faced.
She found that the evidence presented by Tongo, Qwabe, and Mbolombo was replete with fundamental contradictions.
“I take into account that all three witnesses are intelligent and more than capable of twisting their versions to implicate the accused,” she said.
“They may have been amateurs, but I do not believe any of them would have been so stupid as to commit the crimes for a few thousand rands.” SAPA