Bristol

Shrien Dewani trial: Judge asked to continue hearing

Shrien Dewani Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Shrien Dewani denies arranging the murder of his wife

A judge is considering whether a case against UK businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of the murder of his wife, should continue.

Mr Dewani is accused of organising the killing of his wife Anni while on honeymoon in South Africa in 2010.

Defence lawyers claimed taxi driver Zola Tongo, who is serving 18 years for her murder, was an unreliable witness.

But state lawyers said Tongo's financial difficulties led him to take part in the murder plot.

Tongo, prosecutors allege, was paid 15,000 rand (about £1,000) to organise the murder of Mrs Dewani.

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Media captionJon Kay reports from the courtroom in Cape Town

Mr Dewani, a care home owner from Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, who was extradited from the UK after a lengthy Home Office battle, claims the couple were hijacked while Tongo drove them through the Gugulethu township in his taxi on 13 November 2010.

He was released unharmed but his wife was driven away. Her body was found in the abandoned taxi in Khayelitsha the next morning. She had been shot.

The state alleges that Mr Dewani conspired with others to stage the hijacking.

Mr Dewani maintains the money was actually for a surprise helicopter trip which Tongo was helping to arrange.

Prosecutors have submitted a 62-page report following a defence bid to have the case thrown out.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Zola Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term for conspiring with two others to murder Anni Dewani

Tongo was jailed alongside Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who was sentenced to 25 years for his part in the murder.

Xolile Mngeni, who was convicted of firing the shot which killed Mrs Dewani, was sentenced to life in prison and died in jail.

Prosecution lawyer Adrian Mopp said the group were "not the A Team of contractors" and said they could "barely organise transport".

"They are not sleek operators at all," Mr Mopp said.

But he defended Tongo's evidence saying the timings of the plot were "very clear".

Mr Mopp added: "We are dealing with an amateurish attempt. If it was not for the fact the deceased was killed it would have been comical how this act was put together and executed."

The state's submission to the court concludes that "contradictions and discrepancies" in Tongo's evidence "may flow from natural defects of observation" and "mistakes of memory".

But Tongo "never strayed from the crux of his evidence" about the murder plot.

Judge Jeanette Traverso said she would make a decision on the case next Monday.

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