No in-camera hearing for DewaniComment on this story
Cape Town - Shrien Dewani twitched. The muscles in his face ticced. His face contorted into a spasm. He pressed his finger into the back of his ear. He looked confused. The grey-haired Dewani had emerged from the gat – the hole – and stepped into the dock.
“Sit down, Mr Dewani,” Judge President John Hlophe told him.
It took the Justice Department three and a half years to get Dewani into the dock, but he was there for just 10 minutes. The only word he uttered was “yes”, which was when Judge Hlophe asked him if he understood he was going to be sent to Valkenberg.
And with that yes, Judge Hlophe instructed the court official to “take him down to the cells”. Dewani was led back down the gat.
Journalists had streamed into the courtroom three and a half hours earlier, waiting for Dewani.
Two cameramen chatted about The Shot.
“I wish we could get him coming up the gat.”
“The gat is a one-shot wonder,” his colleague replied.
But the rules were strict.
“At 10.45am all cameras will be removed,” an officer declared.
I’d arrived at 9am and found a spot in front. If I were any closer to the action I’d be in Francois van Zyl’s lap. Van Zyl is Dewani’s Barry Roux – a legal heavyweight who has defended Schabir Shaik and Mark Thatcher.
Western Cape justice head Hishaam Mohamed walked into the courtroom. He confirmed that the Justice Department had chartered a plane to bring Dewani to South Africa.
“Who paid for it?”
“We did,” he said. “Actually you did – the South African taxpayer. We did it because it’s in the interest of justice.”
People began to file into the public gallery: ANC Women’s Leaguers in green shirts and black berets, lawyers in Batman robes and aunties in doeks. The stern-looking ANCWL members sat with their arms folded.
At 10.45am, on schedule, the police ordered cameras to be removed. Moments later, a grizzled journalist was spotted with a camera.
“You! Out,” an officer named Grove ordered.
“According to…,” the journalist started bravely.
“Not according to anything,” Grove shot back and the hapless hack was ejected.
“Search under the benches for cameras,” said Grove, his eyes bulging. “You’ve brought it on yourselves.”
Suddenly, with about 10 minutes to Dewani’s dock deadline, photographers appeared, clicking away at an empty gat.
“No! No!” shouted Grove, hopping up and down, a vein popping on his temple. “Get the cameras out.”
“Enough is enough... the camera session is over,” shouted another officer.
Outside court, the ANCWL chanted “phansi Dewani phansi”.
Mhaga took a moment to reflect on the last three years: “We were driven by one objective: to ensure the image of this country remains intact by ensuring that the implicated Mr Dewani returns to answer the allegations against him. It was a protracted journey but it was worthwhile.”
Marlene Pekeur-Murray, a 48-year-old woman, who described herself as a court watcher, said she wasn’t “fooled” by Dewani’s twitches and tics.
“He’s playing mad. He came to South Africa to disgrace us – now he must get his punishment.”