The policeman who took a witness statement from murder-accused Shrien Dewani after a hijacking in 2010 was criticised on Tuesday for having a poor memory and not following procedure.
Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, cross-examined State witness Warrant Officer George Stefanus in the Western Cape High Court on his involvement in the police investigation against his client.
Stefanus was the standby investigator on November 13, 2010 when he received a complaint about a hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, and took a statement from Dewani to try and find the perpetrators.
The taxi was found in Khayelitsha in the early hours of November 14, 2010, with his wife Anni’s body slumped on the backseat.
Dewani is accused of masterminding her murder during their honeymoon in Cape Town. He has pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking.
Van Zyl criticised Stefanus for not making an affidavit explaining that he extracted information from Dewani. He asked whether he still had his copy book with notes.
“My copy book, I went to go look for it and it is gone, lost. It was gone and we couldn’t find it by the station,” the policeman replied.
Van Zyl asked whether Dewani made an oath and was sworn in at the time.
Stefanus replied that he thought Dewani was sworn in by reading the oath and that he did not put in the “so help me God” part.
He was asked why he omitted that.
“Mr Dewani was emotional and me coming with ‘so help me God’; And where is God in that time?” Stefanus replied, making the public gallery and some members of the media snigger.
Dewani kept a straight face in the dock.
The policeman said Dewani was crying at times and also said: “I hope they don’t kill Anni. I hope Anni is okay”.
Van Zyl said his client remembered a number of questions being fired at him, he was shocked by the events of the night and could not recall Stefanus reading parts of the statement back to him.
Stefanus replied that that was Dewani’s viewpoint.
Van Zyl said Dewani would also say the word “township” was not in his vocabulary and that the chronology of the statement was incorrect.
The policeman insisted that Dewani used that exact word and that he only wrote down what was being said to him.
The defence looked at CCTV footage of the hotel and said it told a different story about Dewani’s movements and the times in which he was interviewed.
Stefanus had testified that he interviewed Dewani for 45 minutes and finished at 4.10am.
Van Zyl said that in this time, Dewani and shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo were seen talking in the reception area and passing each other later.
“I might be wrong with the time. I don’t know. I am not sure,” Stefanus replied.
Van Zyl put it to him that his memory was not as good as he believed it was.
He replied: “No, no, no, my memory is still good.”
During re-examination, prosecutor Adrian Mopp asked where he had sourced the content of the statement.
Stefanus said he got everything from Dewani. He was excused from the stand. SAPA