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Bride's family grief-stricken as bisexual businessman husband cleared of honeymoon murder


Shrien Dewani and Anni Dewani

Shrien Dewani and Anni Dewani

Shrien Dewani and Anni Dewani

The family of a Swedish citizen who was killed on her honeymoon in Cape Town said they will have sleepless nights for the rest of their lives after her husband was acquitted yesterday of her murder.

Bisexual British businessman Shrien Dewani was found not guilty by Judge Jeanette Traverso, who said the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence.

Dewani had been accused of arranging the murder of his wife Anni in 2010. He said she was killed during a botched carjacking.

The not guilty verdict is so controversial that the South African justice ministry has demanded a report on why this and other high-profile cases have been lost by state prosecutors.

"The justice system has failed us, and we're deeply disappointed," said Ami Denborg, Anni Dewani's sister.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha has requested a full report from South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority, detailing the investigation and prosecution of the Dewani case and the lack of guilty verdicts in two other prominent murders - the case against Oscar Pistorius and the investigation into the murder of South African soccer team captain Senzo Meyiwa.

"He wants to reflect on how the system has fared in all these cases that have been negatively reported," said Mthunzi Mhaga, a spokesman for the justice ministry.


Kelly Phelps, a legal expert from the University of Cape Town, said the outcry over the case did not mean Judge Traverso's ruling was unfair.

"The fault here lies with the preparation of the state's case, not the judge's handling of it," said Phelps.

Judge Traverso said "the evidence presented in this case falls far below" the threshold needed for a conviction, so she found Dewani not guilty.

Members of the Dewani family burst into tears at the verdict. Anni Dewani's family bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.

"With the ending of the case against Shrien Dewani today, our family return home with more questions than answers and sleepless nights for the rest of our lives," said Ashok Hindocha, Anni's uncle.

South Africa's prosecuting authority said it still believes Dewani orchestrated his wife's murder.

The state's key witness, Zola Tongo, said Dewani paid him to hire two men to carry out the murder. Judge Traverso said the evidence given by the men who have already been convicted for the murder was riddled with inconsistencies. The judge revoked the indemnity of a third man, a hotel receptionist who turned state witness after he was implicated in the murder.

"There were so many lies, mistakes and inconsistencies that one simply cannot know where the lies end and where the truth begins," said Traverso, who delivered the ruling after deliberating for two weeks.