South Africa has the second highest murder rate in the world. It is a favourite hangout for organised crime syndicates from every corner of the world..CORRUPTION...Who Cares ?
. No fear No Favour - The Truth sets you FREE...........
Monday, December 8, 2014
Dewani trial: what really happened and how did police get it so wrong? Briton’s acquittal raises important questions about his wife’s murder and the South African authorities’ response to it • Follow live reaction to the judge’s decision
Prosecutors spent four years fighting to extradite Shrien Dewani so that he could stand trial. On Monday the Cape Town judge Jeanette Traverso said the evidence meant to connect the Briton to his wife Anni’s murder was so poor that only a confession by Dewani could have led to a conviction.
What really happened to Anni?
A taxi carrying Anni and her husband was hijacked in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township on the evening of 13 November 2010. The hijack was planned in advance by the taxi’s driver, Zola Tongo. Anni was shot dead by one of two men who took control of the vehicle. Traverso’s decision to throw out the case discredits the police theory that it was a contract killing arranged by Dewani.
During the trial, Dewani’s barrister, Francois van Zyl, proposed two possible versions of the plot that led to Anni’s death. The first was that it was a robbery gone wrong. Van Zyl pointed to forensic evidence indicating that Anni may have been shot by accident as one of the hijackers attempted to wrest her handbag away from her. Cross-examining the hijacker Mziwamadoda Qwabe, Van Zyl said: “You threatened her with this firearm, pulling her on the left lower leg. The shot went off and she was shot as she tried to get out of the car.”
The defence’s second, perhaps related theory was that it was a bungled kidnap and ransom plot. Van Zyl based this theory partly on the witness testimony of a criminal named Bernard Mitchell who claimed Tongo had told him about the plot in prison afterwards. Mitchell said the driver “explained that the plan was to kidnap [Anni] and to hold her hostage but that the whole plan went off the rails”, Van Zyl said.
How did the South African police get it so wrong?
In its failed argument against discharge, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) conceded that its case rested on the witness testimonies of three men - the driver Tongo, the hijacker Qwabe and the so-called middle man, Monde Mbolombo. The NPA said all three of these men had taken part in Anni’s killing and had provided evidence under plea bargain-type arrangements.
Tongo in effect got 17 years off a potential 25-year jail sentence in return for his testimony. Qwabe got eight years off a 25-jail term. Mbolombo was offered immunity from prosecution. All three men fared terribly in the witness box. Their testimonies were so confused and factually erroneous that Van Zyl felt able to label the state’s case “a cesspit of contradictions”.
The senior investigating detective, Capt Paul Hendrikse, was asked about the decision to offer a plea bargain to Tongo, whose evidence was the “fulcrum” of the prosecution case. He said the decision had been made by the Western Cape’s director of public prosecutions (DPP), Rodney de Kock.
Was there a deliberate attempt to frame Shrien Dewani?
That Traverso rejected the testimonies of Tongo, Qwabe and Mbolombo means it is reasonable to assume the trio concocted their tale that Dewani arranged the murder. The conspiracy may have been hatched on the various occasions they were permitted by the police to talk to each other after they were arrested.
But did the conspiracy run deeper than that? Was Shrien Dewani framed by elements within the South African establishment? Four years ago Dewani’s then spokesman, the now disgraced Max Clifford, made sweeping statements alleging such a conspiracy. But, the only time an allegation of high-level conspiracy emerged in court was when the prosecution provided a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation between Shrien Dewani’s elder brother, Preyen, and members of Anni’s family.
Preyen Dewani was revealed as having told Anni’s family: “We are not dealing with anything normal here. We are dealing with South Africa. This is not Sweden or the UK where you have a robust police and court system. Certain senior politicians are getting very worried about the tourism situation.” He said there was “political pressure on them to divert [inaudible] from a robbery which suggests South Africa is unsafe to something more sinister”.
Aware, perhaps, of the legal risks involved in asking Traverso to rule on a conspiracy orchestrated by high-ranking officials, Dewani’s lawyers steered clear of this claim in court. Indeed, they repeatedly held up the case’s co-coordinating detective Lt Col Mike Barkhuizen as a model of official probity.
In her ruling Traverso highlighted at least four occasions when Tongo accused Barkhuizen of misrepresenting what he had told the senior detective in interview. She did not make any ruling has to how this misunderstanding might have occurred.
If the police weren’t corrupt, were they incompetent?
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the South African Police Service’s handling of the investigation has been woefully inadequate. Dewani’s trial exposed a litany of basic errors. Police pocket books were lost, a witness statement was taken unsigned, a legally binding affidavit was falsified. One key state witness admitting lying to a previous court hearing.
At one point Hendrikse, who had day-to-day control of the case, admitted forgetting for four years about a key piece of forensic evidence that could have led to one South African man being cleared of Anni’s murder.
Then there was the police’s decision – taken in conjunction with the NPA – to offer three guilty men plea bargain and immunity deals in return for evidence fingering Dewani. As a result, Tongo can expect to be out of prison on parole in five years’ time.
Traverso ruled that Mbolombo’s witness testimony was so unreliable that his immunity deal should not be granted. He could now be charged with murder.
What about Anni’s family? They seemed convinced there was a case to answer.
Anni’s family have given vocal backing to Dewani’s prosecution and have repeatedly urged him to explain his actions in a South African courtroom. As Anni’s younger brother, Anish Hindocha, said soon after Dewani’s arrest: “There must be something there because [otherwise] why would South Africa go out and say these things? They are very big things to accuse someone of if they don’t have any evidence, there must be something.”
More recently, Anni’s father, Vinod, expressed his anger that Dewani had not told them in advance of his marriage that he was bisexual. “If I knew Shrien was gay or bisexual I would never have allowed Anni to get married,” he declared last week.
The Hindocha family’s involvement in the prosecution went further than expressions of support, however. Under South African law, a murder victim’s family is given the right of veto over whether the accused should be granted any plea bargain deal. Vinod Hindocha signed off on the deals granted to Tongo and Qwabe.
He said at the time: “The prosecutor asked me: ‘Vinod, do you approve of this if he tells the truth?’ I said yes, I want to know the truth about what happened to my Anni.”
Traverso ruled that Tongo didn’t tell the truth. The Hindochas had been misled.
If the case was always so poor, how did Dewani get extradited from Britain?
South Africa’s extradition agreement with Britain is remarkably trusting. All that either country needs to show to win a person’s extradition from the other is that the person is wanted in connection with a crime and that there is some evidence against him or her. There is no requirement to prove the strength of the evidence.
Despite this, in Dewani’s case the South African government did give an indication of what it considered the strength of its evidence. In February 2011, Ben Watson, a British barrister employed to achieve Dewani’s extradition, told the high court in London that the evidence linking Dewani to his wife’s murder was “very powerful”.
COMMENTS BY SONNY
SOUTH AFRICA AND THE CAPE IN PARTICULAR ARE KNOWN FOR LOSING HIGH PROFILE MURDER CASES.
INCOMPETENCE ON THE SIDE OF THE SAPS AND NPA IS EVIDENT!.