Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso was asked on Monday to look at all the improbabilities surrounding the evidence presented during the trial of British businessman Shrien Dewani.
Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, argued during an application to have his client discharged that certain details of an alleged conspiracy to kill Dewani’s wife Anni were so improbable they could not be true.
He referred specifically to the testimony of shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo, who transported the couple while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town, in November 2010.
Tongo testified that Dewani approached him soon after landing in Cape Town with a request for a hitman.
He said it was improbable that a plan to kill someone for R15,000 could be organised within a mere 30 minutes or that his client, on the State’s version, was prepared to short-change a “dangerous” men by only taking R10,000 with him.
Also improbable, Van Zyl said, was that his client would wear an expensive watch and carry R4000 in his wallet if he knew he was going to be robbed as part of a planned hijacking.
If one looked at the surveillance footage of the couple a few hours before the hijacking, they seemed happy and in love, another improbability if it were true that he knew of her imminent death, the lawyer said.
“My lady, these are one, two, three huge improbabilities,” he said.
Van Zyl sought to cast doubt on Tongo as a reliable witness and gave examples of “material inconsistencies” in his testimony.
He said Tongo had changed his story about when, where and how Dewani approached him with the murder plan.
“That already destroys his credibility to a large extent.”
He said Tongo’s evidence was not supported by that of the other hitmen.
“These contradictions are alive and well and there.”
Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with 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.
Dewani 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.
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. SAPA