Newspaper reports in the UK have suggested that Shrien Dewani, who was acquitted in December by a Cape High Court judge of murdering his wife Anni Hindocha while on honeymoon in South Africa in 2010, might still have questions to answer in court. A North London coroner will apparently meet with Anni’s family this week with a view to reopening the case. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Just when millionaire Bristol businessman, Shrien Dewani, thought he could escape media attention and public scrutiny, it appears as if North London coroner, Andrew Walker, is set to reopen an inquest into Anni’s death and that Dewani might be called to testify.
The inquest docket was first opened in 2010 after Anni’s funeral on 18 November. A spokeswoman for Walker told the BBC that a date had not yet been set. However, Walker had emailed “individuals” – including Dewani – involved in the case, alerting them to the fact that he is ready to resume the inquest.
Judge Jeanette Traverso freed Dewani shortly before Christmas, dismissing the murder charge as the state, she said, had not been able to prove its case.
Reports are that Anni Hindocha’s father, Vinod, as well as her uncle, Ashok Hindocha, were due meet Walker this week to discuss the case. The MailOnline reported that the resumption of the inquest followed the lodging of a formal complaint with the Judicial Services Commission against Traverso in South Africa on January 22.
Traverso has been attacked by a little-known “group of academics and laywers” called the South African Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) which has been critical of her “handling” of the matter.
Chairman of the organisation, Lucky Thekisho, has urged the JSC to suspend Traverso claiming that article five of the Judicial Code of Ethics required judges “to act honourably not only in the discharge of official duties but to act honourably and in a manner befitting judicial office in a professional manner that enhances the public trust in or respect for the judiciary and the judicial system.”
The JSC conduct committee will now investigate the matter. Should the chairman find that the charge is “frivolous or lacking in substance” – as it is likely to do – the complaint will be dismissed. The committee is reportedly due to rule on the complaint later this month.
Most legal experts in South Africa have agreed that Traverso, based on the state’s weak case, had no option but to release Dewani.
There are five grounds for lodging a complaint against a judge including gross incompetence or misconduct, a breach of the Code of Judicial Conduct, accepting money, or “willful or grossly negligent conduct… that is incompatible with or unbecoming the holding of judicial office”.
Anni’s family have consistently expressed their disappointment with Traverso’s ruling, and are of the opinion that she did not get “a fair trial” and that Dewani should have taken the stand.
Traverso found that the testimony of Dewani’s apparent co-conspirator, Zola Tongo, as well as of one of the hijackers, Mziwamdoda Qwabe, who both claimed Dewani had orchestrated the murder, had been riddled with inconsistencies. Dewani consistently maintained that he was innocent. DM
Photo: British businessman Shrien Dewani appears in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, 6 October 2014. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA/Pool