Dewani trial heads for showdown

The prosecution and defence are heading for a showdown over whether Shrien Dewani should be acquitted.

FILE: The prosecution and defence are headed for a showdown over whether Shrien Dewani should be acquitted. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The prosecution and defence in Shrien Dewani' s murder trial are headed for a showdown in the Western Cape High court today over whether the British businessman should be discharged and acquitted.

Western Cape High court Judge Jeanette Traverso will hear arguments from both legal teams over whether the Brit should be discharged without the defence having to argue its case.

Dewani is accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife, Anni Hindocha Dewani, during the couple's honeymoon in Cape Town four years ago.

Dewani's lawyers are likely to argue that the state's key witnesses, taxi driver Zola Tongo and hitman Mziwamadoda Qwabe, are unreliable witnesses because they contradicted themselves and one another while on the stand.

The defence is calling for Dewani's discharge and acquittal in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Independent criminal law attorney Cliff Alexander, who is not involved with the case, believes the defence will be successful.

"The state has had their bite of the cherry, but they haven't bitten it hard enough. I don't believe Judge Traverso would be inclined to grant them a second bite."

Dewani has pleaded not guilty to five charges including murder.

The prosecution closed its case early last week after calling 16 witnesses to the stand to testify.

Dewani claims he and his wife fell victim to a hijacking in Gugulethu four years ago, and denies any involvement in the attack in which she was gunned down.