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Durban - Close relatives of honeymoon murder victim Anni Dewani reacted angrily to a BBC programme that claimed the South African police investigation into her death was flawed.
In the hour-long Panorama special broadcast on Thursday night in the UK, scientists said there was only a “cloud of suspicion” against Anni’s husband Shrien, “rather than any evidence”.
Professor of forensic science Jim Fraser told the programme: “This is not an investigation that would meet the standards in this country (Britain). This is not what would be considered good practice.
“There are many things… that fall a long way short of effective investigation.”
The BBC team obtained South African police files that make up the prosecution case against Dewani, 33, who has been fighting extradition back to Cape Town. He is in a mental hospital suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression but has been deemed fit enough to return, depending on a Supreme Court hearing next month.
Police believe he hired hit men to stage a bogus hijack in Gugulethu, Cape Town, before Anni, 28, was driven off and shot in 2010.
Panorama reported that CCTV footage and phone records appeared to contradict parts of the account by their driver, Zola Tongo, who was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the killing. Firearms expert Mark Mastaglio also told Panorama a wound in Anni’s hand suggested she was shot at close range during a struggle - contradicting police claims she was executed.
British Home Office pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd said blood would have splattered on the seat if Anni had been cowering back against it, making him think she was leaning or sitting forward.
However Ashok Hindocha, Anni’s uncle, said the programme was one-sided. He wanted a right of reply on camera in the documentary, which was rejected by the producers. Instead they asked him for a written response, which they said would be included in the programme, which he rejected.
Speaking from his home in Sweden, Hindocha said: “I wrote to the BBC and they came back to me at one or two in the morning with this suggestion, which I didn’t agree to. They’ve got so-called witnesses, but what they looked at was very narrow, like the gunshot wound.
“Did they know the taxi was moving at the time, and what would big men like that need to have a loaded gun with the safety catch off to scare little Anni?
“I’ve always trusted and respected the BBC, a big worldwide corporation, but not after this. Their last programme was more balanced and we co-operated with it but we always asked them not to ask about the legal details because that is up to the courts. The only thing the BBC did agree to was not to show pictures of Anni’s hand.
“We’ve waited patiently for three years to see justice for Anni but one-sided programmes like this add to the frustration. It’s upsetting to my family because it’s not balanced. We still get hundreds of letters and e-mails asking about Anni and this programme just adds to the upset.”
Rodney de Kock, Western Cape director of prosecutions, on Thursday said the programme was “very unhelpful”. Speaking before the programme was broadcast, he said: “It is sub judice and we have to respect the rights of Mr Dewani to a fair trial. It would be wrong to give evidence via a television broadcast.
“I think it’s very unhelpful because the content they choose to use can be selective and the conclusions they draw can be the wrong.”