Murder charge against Dewani dismissed

Shrien Dewani was accused of being the mastermind behind his wife’s 2010 murder in Cape Town.

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

CAPE TOWN -Western Cape deputy judge president Jeanette Traverso has granted Shrien Dewani's application for acquittal and discharge, meaning he is now a free man.

She ruled there is no evidence with which a reasonable court could convict the British businessman for the 2010 killing of his wife Anni in Cape Town.

"In the circumstances I make the following order: The application in terms of section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Act is granted. The accused is found not guilty on this charge."

In handing down her judgment, Traverso found that the only accomplice witness in the trial, Zola Tongo, had given contradictory evidence and was prepared to lie.

Tongo had accused Dewani of masterminding the plot to kill his wife during the couple's honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Traverso spent over two hours summarising the evidence of three state witnesses.

She said she believes, Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Monde Mbolombo, are intelligent men who would not have got involved for a few thousand rand.

She found contradictions in all of their testimonies.

Traverso said even though the credibility of the witnesses plays a limited role at this stage in the trial, she can't ignore the quality of their evidence.

Dewani stood tense in the dock, stoney as Traverso made her ruling.

His mother cried as she heard the decision.

On the other hand, Anni's family were clearly gutted by the decision. They wanted Dewani to take the stand in his own defence.

Last month, Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl, filed an application for his discharge and acquittal in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Van Zyl had argued that the state's star witness, former taxi driver Zola Tongo, was an unreliable witness whose evidence was highly improbable and riddled with inconsistencies.

Dewani had been on trial in the Western Cape High Court since 6 October for allegedly masterminding Anni's murder.

Dewani was extradited to South Africa in April following the conviction of three South African men for their roles in Anni's death.

One of the men, Xolile Mngeni, died of a brain tumour in October.

He had been serving a life sentence for his role in the murder.

For more on the trial and Shrien Dewani, click here.