Proceedings underway: Will Dewani walk free?

DECEMBER 8, 2014

We will know if Shrien Dewani will walk free this morning as the Western Cape High Court decides whether the British businessman’s application to be discharged in the killing of his wife, Anni Hindocha, has been successful.

Both Shrien Dewani, his relatives and the Hindocha family have arrived at the Western Cape High Court where a massive media contingent has already gathered to report on proceedings.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso has gotten proceeding underway while Dewani sits in the dock.

Dewani stands accused of orchestrating Anni's murder during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Calls not to release Dewani

Last week, the Hindochas urged the Western Cape High Court to continue Dewani's trial so he could give his version of events.

"Don't let Shrien Dewani walk away without giving us, South Africa and people from all over the world the full story," Anni's brother, Anish Hindocha, told a news conference.

It would be a "terrible development" if Dewani was allowed to leave South Africa "without explaining himself what happened on the night when my sister got murdered", he said.

Poor prosecution

After months of consistently supporting the National prosecuting Authority (NPA), a social media-based organisation, Justice4Anni, last weekend, said that the "the prosecution's performance at the trial has been abysmal", and accused prosecutors Adrian Mopp and Shireen Riley of "shoddy work".

"When the facts are carefully looked at there is something very suspicious about the entire handling of the Dewani murder trial," the group said.

"The prosecutors have not properly highlighted the solid evidence in the prosecution file about Dewani's actions, the CCTV revelations, the phone call explanations. There has been no explanation of why SMS text message context has not been retrieved," it said.

Last week the organisation petitioned Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha, calling for Judge Jeanette Traverso's recusal from the trial based on claims that she has been biased in favour of Dewani.

Poor evidence

Dewani's legal representative, Francois van Zyl SC, has argued that the evidence of his client's alleged co-conspirators has been "poor" and cannot be relied on.

Legal experts believe Dewani's lawyer has put up a strong case for his acquittal and that he will be home by Christmas.

Criminal law specialist William Booth told Timeslive that: "I feel that Dewani's defence has presented a very strong case to the court. Even if the judge refuses the application that is not going to improve the state's case. But if the evidence is of poor quality, why prolong the trial?"

Criminal lawyer Martin Hood shared this view.

"I think Dewani is going home this week," he said.