British businessman Shrien Dewani was on Monday discharged of the killing of his wife Anni in 2010 and free to return home. Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso said his application for a discharge was granted and he was thus found not guilty on five charges.
“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 threshold of what was required. She took note of the strong public opinion and had heard the plight of the Hindocha family.
She said it was regrettable that many unanswered questions remained about what happened the night she 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 have refused Dewani’s application was for the hope that he would implicate himself during evidence, which Traverso said would be an injustice.
Dewani walked out of the dock and down the stairs to the holding cell without any expression on his face. His family burst into tears.
People in the public gallery shouted that the State should appeal the discharge.
Dewani went on trial in October for allegedly plotting with shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo and others to kill 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.
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, but was warned he faced possible prosecution on various charges if he did not testify truthfully during Dewani’s trial.
Traverso ruled on Monday that she would not grant Mbolombo immunity.
She found 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