Dewani trial: Police's handling of evidence under scrutiny

An investigating officer and forensic analyst this week took the stand in the Western Cape High Court.

FILE: British businessman Shrien Dewani appears in the Western Cape High Court on 6 October 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Police Service (SAPS) and its handling of Anni Hindocha Dewani's murder case has been in the spotlight this week with the investigating officer and a forensic analyst taking the stand over the last few days.

British businessman Shrien Dewani is accused of orchestrating his wife's murder during the couple's honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010 in an an alleged staged hijacking.

Her body was found in an abandoned car in Khayelitsha.

Yesterday, her family marked the fourth anniversary of her murder through prayer and reflection at the scene where her body was found.

Prayers were also offered in her homeland of Sweden.

Forensic analyst Colonel Thandiwe Mlabateki was the state's 16th witness.

Mlabateki's testimony sought to answer why gunshot residue was found on hitman Mziwamadoda Qwabe's glove when according to the state's case he didn't pull the trigger.

Speaking generally, Mlabateki said primer residue examination can't determine who the shooter is, because particles end up on all exposed surfaces in a confined space.

The glove was found several days after the shooting but the results were "overlooked" by the police during their probe.

Earlier this week, investigating officer Paul Hendrikse, conceded on the stand that it was an oversight.

Mlabateki said a positive primer residue result indicated one of three things: a person pulled the trigger, was within a two-metre radius of a shooting or there had been secondary transfer by handling a cartridge or gun holster.


Earlier this week, Dewani's defence used playful phone messages and surveillance camera footage to show the British businessman and his wife were in an affectionate relationship just days before she was killed.

The CCTV footage shows the couple cuddling and kissing while seated in a cosy booth at a hotel bar.

In the dock, Dewani was emotional as he wiped away tears, took a few deep breaths and tried to compose himself while the clips were played in court.

Hendrikse was forced to concede the couple was affectionate in the footage.

Dewani's lawyer, Francois van Zyl, recalled Hendrikse to the stand to show him the video clips and phone messages the couple had sent each other days before the murder.

Van Zyl read out the phone messages sent on 4 and 5 November 2010 in which the couple used pet names "Fred" and "Wilma" during their playful banter.