Shrien Dewani trial: Week one concludes

Dewani's version of events, his not guilty plea and the role of a middleman came into sharp focus.

Shrien Dewani in the dock at Cape Town High Court at the start of the trial 6 October 2014. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Shrien Dewani' s version of his wife's killing, his not guilty plea and a middleman featured in the first week of the Briton's murder trial.

Dewani is on trial in the Western Cape High Court for allegedly ordering a hit on his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Three South Africans are serving jail terms for Anni's murder.

Her body was found in an abandoned car in Khayelitsha following an apparent staged hijacking.

The honeymoon murder trial kicked off on Monday with the Briton pleading not guilty to all five charges against him.

A crime scene video showing Anni's body slumped over the back seat of a taxi and forensic details about the gunshot that killed her were revealed on day one of the trial.

Gasps emanated from the public gallery when crime scene footage was shown in court.

The state's first witness, pathologist Janette Verster, said Anni was shot in the neck and bled out in a "matter of heartbeats".

The following day, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who has been convicted for his role in the crime, testified.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo called in about a job and Qwabe explained that Tongo said Anni's husband wanted her dead.

The trio met in Khayelitsha where they discussed the staged hijacking and that they would be paid R15,000.

Dewani lost a three-year legal battle in Britain to avoid being tried in South Africa and was extradited in April.

His mental health has been a topic of concern over the last few years but in August he was deemed fit to stand trial by a panel of experts who had been observing him at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Pinelands.

He was initially said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression.

Dewani's trial is the second high-profile case this year to turn the spotlight on South Africa's judicial system and high murder rate.

The matter will resume on Monday.


Dewani's defence team maintains the facts show a fourth person, who has been granted immunity from prosecution, played a definitive role in arranging the apparent hijacking in which his wife Anni was killed.

Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo acted as a middleman, linking two of the convicted criminals, but Dewani's lawyer suggested he had a bigger role to play.

During cross-examination Qwabe was adamant Mbolombo simply linked him up with Tongo.

But defence lawyer Francois van Zyl wasn't convinced.

He said phone records show Mbolombo was in contact with Qwabe on the night of the hijacking, showing he was deeply involved in the planning.

Mbolombo turned state witness in Xolile Mngeni's trial, the man found guilty of pulling the trigger after the car was hijacked.

Qwabe is serving 25 years for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of an illegal gun, after reaching a plea bargain with state lawyers.

Tongo is serving 18 years under a similar deal while Mngeni was found guilty of shooting Dewani and sentenced to life in prison.


Dewani's internet browser history is expected to form part of the state's case against him as prosecutors try to prove he had a motive to kill his wife.

The browser history shows Dewani logged onto a gay dating site and another site for men into fetish gear just two days after his wife was killed.

Dewani's formal admissions show he logged on to gay hook up site Gaydar while he was on honeymoon with his wife Anni.

Records show his computer also accessed the site just two days after his wife was murdered.

But he deactivated the account on 21 November 2010, a little over a week later.

Details about Dewani's internet browser history are contained in a 32-page document that was handed over to the Western Cape High Court this week.

The state could argue that his actions were not consistent with that of a grieving husband.

The following day, Dewani was questioned by members of his wife's family about what happened on the night she had been killed.

Part of that conversation was recorded by Anni's cousin and forms part of evidence in the case against him.

The witness list has not been released to the public.

Click here for Dewani's full plea explanation.

Click here for the Dewani trial live blog.