Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Dewani trial: Why none of the stories makes sense

Dan Newling, a Cape based journalist who writes for the UK Daily Mail, has taken an in-depth look at the murder of Anni Dewani while she was on honeymoon in Cape Town during 2010.

The article, which includes substantial details of the events leading up to the murder, includes a number of compelling questions which will need to be decided by the trial court — if this trial does proceed with Shrien Dewani as an accused.

As things presently stand Dewani, Anni’s husband, has been accused by the South African authorities of masterminding her murder by simulating a hijacking whose only real purpose was her death. This is pursuant to evidence obtained from Zola Tongo, the taxi driver, who drove the Dewanis around during their stay.

The South African authorities have made an application for Shrien’s extradition from the United Kingdom as a result of which the UK courts and home secretary have already confirmed that Dewani should be transferred to Cape Town. Shrien still has two further opportunities to avoid this — the Supreme Court (to which he is currently appealing) and the European Courts.

The fact that Dewani is resisting extradition must not be construed as a sign of his guilt. As I have pointed out in a previous article any criminal attorney worth their salt would employ all avenues available to protect their client, which is what they are doing.

If however these legal blocks should prove ineffective then the guilt or innocence of Dewani will, to a greater degree, be determined at trial by the Judge’s reading of the evidence surrounding an alleged sexual assault on Anni.

The reason is far simpler than most would imagine.

In accordance with both the Tongo and Dewani versions, Shrien and the taxi driver were evicted from the vehicle prior to the murder of Anni taking place.

Accordingly if the motive was rape or some other form of sexual assault, then Dewani’s version has credibility, if it was not the basis for the hijacking then only Tongo’s version can have merit.

If the intention was murder then the early release of Dewani and Tongo is nonsensical. Why would hijackers only murder one victim and release two state witnesses who can easily identify them? The answer is that they wouldn’t. Murdering three people in those circumstances, believe it or not, makes far more sense than killing one person and leaving the other two to identify the perpetrators.

If the intention was rape or some other form of sexual assault then the prior release of the two males accompanying Anni, who may have tried to come to her aid, does make sense. The murder, unintended at the outset, may have resulted from an ensuing struggle.

Of course the judge will be guided by the evidence of the pair after the murder.

In this regard Tongo and Dewani should be firmly on the same side if Shrien’s version is correct. The fact that they aren’t does pose a number of questions but these can be answered at the trial if it proceeds.

Truth is always stranger than fiction and readers must not make up their minds in advance.

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