Dewani case: Prosecutors have no chance to appeal

Judge Jeanette Traverso made Dewani a free man by granting his application to discharge the case.

British businessman Shrien Dewani (L) sits in a car driven into the Western Cape High Court, on 8 December, 2014, in Cape Town. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - It's the end of the road for prosecutors in British businessman Shrien Dewani's murder trial with no chance of an appeal.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says the state relied on the evidence of three South African men who were all involved in the alleged murder plot to have Dewani convicted.

The British businessman was accused of ordering a hit on his wife, Anni Hindocha Dewani, during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

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

Western Cape High Court Judge Jeanette Traverso found the state provided no credible evidence to convict Dewani and granted an application to discharge.

"In the circumstances, I make the following order, the application in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act is granted, the accused is found not guilty and discharged."

Traverso said she was aware of strong public opinion that Dewani should present his case to the court.

"I have however taken an oath of office to uphold the rule of law and to administer justice without fear, favour or prejudice. That I cannot do if I permit public opinion to influence my application of the law."

The NPA's Nathi Mncube explained the state's position on appealing the judge's ruling.

"We can only appeal on a question of law. We were in court and we heard that this was not a question of law, it was all a question of fact. The fact that the witnesses contradicted themselves and that they gave inconsistent evidence."

The Justice Department says it is disappointed by Dewani's acquittal.

The justice ministry spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga says although they are disappointed, they are not surprised.

"We have exhausted a lot of resources into the case, but knowing how justice is defined, as a fair and just adjudication of legal issues."


Anni's relatives say they've been left with more questions then answers in their four year quest for the truth.

Anni's sister Ami Denborg said the justice system had failed them.

Their uncle, Ashok Hindocha, said the family were surprised that the case was thrown out of court.

"We had four years of torture. We were promised we would get the truth from South Africa, but we got nothing out of it. All we found out was his bisexuality."

He said although he was disappointed with Traverso's ruling, he can't blame anyone.

"We are just frustrated that she could throw out the case without hearing it. Shrien Dewani was not given a chance to be cross-examined, yet he was believed."

Hindocha believes Dewani should have taken the stand like the other men accused of Anni's murder.

"All he [Dewani] said in court was through his paid lawyers."

They're now considering their legal options which could include suing him in the United Kingdom.


Prosecutors are also facing widespread criticism in the UK over their handling of case.

Media and legal observers claim the investigation and prosecution of the British businessman was flawed and have also raised serious questions about South Africa's legal system.

Haphazard, shoddy and incompetent are among the scathing comments from the UK following the sensational acquittal.

Analysis of his trial has highlighted incomplete witness statements and what has been described as inadequate ballistics investigations.

The testimony of star witness Zola Tongo was branded by British media as "hopeless".

Criticism of the prosecution's case comes as speculation grows that Dewani could leave South Africa and return to the UK today.

With huge British media interested in the failed legal case, it's now reported that South African prosecutors could face legal action for defaming the Briton by unnecessarily scrutinising his private sex life in open court.

During the trial, Dewani was forced to sit through graphic details about his sex life, including his secret bisexuality and his alleged liaisons with gay prostitutes.

Legal experts now say the prosecution's case could be scrutinised to see if it unjustifiably abused the British businessman's sexuality as evidence.

Any action against prosecutors could rest on whether they made defamatory statements that were not relevant to court proceedings.