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Bid to save SA justice system

091210 Businessman Shrien Dewani is led into a prison van at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London December 8, 2010. A millionaire Briton accused of murdering his bride while the couple were on honeymoon in South Africa must remain in custody after South African authorities appealed against a London court granting him bail on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS SOCIETY)

091210 Businessman Shrien Dewani is led into a prison van at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London December 8, 2010. A millionaire Briton accused of murdering his bride while the couple were on honeymoon in South Africa must remain in custody after South African authorities appealed against a London court granting him bail on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS SOCIETY)

Published Dec 12, 2014

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The DA will request a review of the NPA given the judgment handed down in the Shrien Dewani case, says Glynnis Breytenbach.

Pretoria - The DA will write to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha and chairman of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services Mathole Motshekga requesting that the committee launch a review of the state and effectiveness of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) given the judgment handed down in the Shrien Dewani case.

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This comes after reports alleged that more than R5 million was spent on the extradition and trial of Dewani for the alleged murder of his wife in Cape Town four years ago.

Judge Jeanette Traverso found, under section 174 of the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA), that the prosecution did not supply enough credible evidence to support its case. Section 174 of the CPA stipulates that “if, at the close of the case for the prosecution at any trial, the court is of the opinion that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence referred to in the charge or any offence of which he may be convicted on the charge, it may return a verdict of not guilty.”

Indeed, it is unusual to make credibility findings at this stage of the prosecution.

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Furthermore, Judge Traverso granted a section 174 despite a long extradition hearing which demonstrated a prima facie case.

In the State’s protracted efforts and spending to get Dewani to return to stand trial, it would appear that the NPA did not have a solid case in the first place.

This raises serious questions about how the NPA decides which cases to prosecute.

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In my request I will ask why the State pursued this matter before building a stronger case.

At the earliest available opportunity I will also be submitting parliamentary questions to get clarity on:

* The total cost of the Dewani trial.

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* Who sanctioned the decision to continue the prosecution.

* If there wasn’t enough evidence, what were the reasons for continuing?

The DA has long held that due course of the law must be central to our criminal justice system. This case raises many questions about the efficacy and effectiveness of our prosecuting authority.

There are many unanswered questions about how the NPA conducts its business and Parliament must use this opportunity to fully address the systemic malfunctions at our prosecuting authority if we are to rescue our criminal justice system.

* Glynnis Breytenbach MP is the DA’s spokeswoman for justice.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Pretoria News

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