British businessman Shrien Dewan prepares to leave South Africa at Cape Town International Airport. File photo: AP

 

Cape Town - The family of Anni Hindocha have spoken about how they are trying to find a way to reopen the criminal case against Shrien Dewani, who was acquitted of his wife’s murder two months ago.

“We would like Shrien Dewani, on the whole, to speak about what happened,” Anni’s uncle, Ashok Hindocha, told Weekend Argus this week.

The family also wants text messages and other testimony, which was disallowed during the trial in Cape Town, to be admitted as evidence against him.

Ashok said the family was involved in discussions with lawyers to find ways they could explore to have the case reopened.

“That’s our first aim,” he said, adding that their next hope was that a coroner’s inquest would provide them with answers.

But some attorneys say Dewani can never be recharged locally and added that the UK did not have the jurisdiction to charge him for a murder that took place in South Africa.

Ashok was in the UK when he spoke to Weekend Argus, where the release of Vinod Hindocha’s book, titled Anni Dewani: A Father’s Story, took place this week.

Ashok and Vinod were supposed to meet North London coroner Andrew Walker on Tuesday about possibly holding an inquest.

However, the meeting did not go ahead as planned because the Dewanis were not available to attend. A date has been set for later this month.

Local attorneys, however, are baffled by the possibility of an inquest in Britain.

William da Grass, the former attorney for taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has been jailed for his involvement in Anni’s murder, said an inquest usually preceded a criminal trial.

 

He said Dewani could not be recharged in South Africa and that the UK did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the matter because Anni was killed in South Africa.

“I can’t see there being any ramifications for him,” Da Grass said, adding that all that they would be able to achieve is to have Dewani’s version interrogated. Even then, he has the right against self incrimination, he added.

Dewani never testified in November 2010, when Anni was shot dead, because the court found that the evidence presented against him was so poor that he did not have to put up an answer to the allegations.

Referring to the family’s aims of having the case reopened locally, Da Grass said such a move would be historic, since the judicial proceedings had already been concluded.

William Booth, who chairs the criminal committee of the Law Society, agreed that Dewani could never be tried again in South Africa for Anni’s murder.

He said an inquest usually determines a cause of death and whether or not anyone was responsible for the person’s death.

In Anni’s case, the Western Cape High Court has already found that Dewani was not responsible for her death.

“How can a reasonable coroner come to a different conclusion when a senior judge in Cape Town has already found that the evidence was so poor?”

It is for the State to apply for leave to appeal if it wants to challenge Dewani’s acquittal and, in such a case, it has to do so on a question of law, Booth added.

According to the website of the Coroners Society of England and Wales, coroners investigate deaths that have been reported to them if it appears that:

* The death was violent or unnatural.

* The cause of death is unknown.

* The person died in prison, police custody, or another type of state detention.

“In these cases coroners must investigate to find out, for the benefit of bereaved people and for official records, who has died and how, when, and where.

“The coroner (or jury, where there is one) comes to a conclusion at the end of an inquest. This includes the legal ‘determination’, which states who died, and where, when and how they died,” the website concluded.

Weekend Argus