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Dewani defence to apply for discharge

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Lawyers for British businessman Shrien Dewani said on Monday they intended applying to the Western Cape High Court for his discharge on charges of conspiring to kill his wife Anni.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, said the defence intended making an application to Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Van Zyl said it had been a long trial and the defence needed time to prepare its application as there were many facts it had to deal with.

The defence would file its heads of argument on Wednesday and the State would file responding papers on Friday.

Traverso said the application would be heard on Monday.

Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that if at the close of the prosecution’s case, the court believes there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, it may return a verdict of not guilty.

The State closed its case on Monday.

Dewani is on trial 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 has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

He claims 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.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking, for which he paid R15,000.

He maintains that Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for R15,000.

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.

Before closing its case on Monday, the State handed up the latest common cause facts agreed to by itself and the defence.

Included in the document was a timeline and “cellphone analysis and mapping” report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s principle researcher Dr Peter Schmitz.

All calls and text messages between Dewani, Tongo, Monde Mbolombo, Qwabe and Mngeni, as well as the dates and times thereof, were not in dispute.

The report showed that Dewani spoke to Tongo on his cellphone for over five minutes on the day he landed in Cape Town, and then twice again shortly before the apparent hijacking the next evening.

Dewani also sent seven smses to Tongo in this period, according to the report.

On November 16, 2010, the day Dewani left for the United Kingdom, Tongo phoned him and hung up. He then phoned Tongo four times, the last of which was made a short while after he said he handed over a thank you card and R1000 to Tongo.

Three calls were made to Tongo from the Cape Grace Hotel’s landline between November 14 and November 16, in the early hours of the morning.

It was not clear who made these calls.

According to the common cause facts document, Dewani made a once-off electronic payment to the Cape Grace Hotel of R30,000, half of which was for his stay and the other a staff gratuity. SAPA

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