‘Dewani’s hit-men’ not A-team of killers, court told

Shrien Dewani and Anni Dewani were only married for two weeks

Shrien Dewani and Anni Dewani were only married for two weeks

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The fate of a British businessman accused of arranging a hit on his wife during their honeymoon four years ago could be decided in a fortnight.

South African deputy judge Presidente Jeanette Traverso will decide on 8 December whether or not to kick out evidence against Shrien Dewani for the 2010 killing of his new wife Anni in 2010.

Prosecutors said Dewani staged a botched carjacking with the help of accomplices and that his 28-year-old wife, a Swedish national, was killed as part of the scheme.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges when his trial began in October and has said he and his wife were hijacked at gunpoint.

Three South Africans were convicted for the murder, with one recently dying, but prosecutors insist he was behind it.

Lawyers for the 34-year-old millionaire businessman from Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol have asked the court to throw out the case against him and allow him to return to England.

Francois van Zyl, defending Dewani, has claimed there are inconsistencies in evidence given against his client.

But prosecutor Adrian Mopp told the Western Cape High Court: “We know these individuals were not the A-team of contract killers.

“They could barely organise transport from Khayelitsha to Gugulethu. We are dealing with an amateurish attempt.

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“If it were not for the killing of the deceased, it would actually be comical, the manner in which this matter was set about.”

Yesterday, Judge Traverso spoke about the seemingly disorganised plan that the men allegedly organised together.

She said that she would decide on defence arguments that the case against Dewani should be thrown out on the grounds that state prosecutors had insufficient evidence to prove Dewani’s guilt.

“I obviously want to take time to consider,” Traverso said.

Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that if, at the close of the prosecution’s case, the court believes there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, it may return a verdict of not guilty.

The defence and the state filed heads of argument for the discharge application last week.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with taxi driver Zola Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon on Cape Town in November 2010.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

Prosecutors claim Dewani approached Tongo to hire a hitman. He in turn was said to have sought help from a hotel receptionist who recruited Mziwamadoda Qwabe who in turn brought in Xolile Mngeni.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked while Tongo drove them through Gugulethu in his minibus on 13 November 2010.

He was released unharmed and Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The state alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking, for which he paid 15,000 rand (£870).

He maintains that Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for 15,000 rand.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term and Qwabe a 25-year jail term. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour last month.

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