Dewani will get fair trial in SA, says justice minister

2010-12-10 16:37
Suggestions that UK businessman Shrien Dewani will not get a fair trial in South Africa are without the “slightest foundation”, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said.

“Our courts jealously uphold and enforce the Constitution, including the accused’s rights. It is thus simply untrue to suggest that Shrien Dewani will not get a fair trial, should our extradition request to the United Kingdom (UK) succeed.”

He further denied claims that South African authorities charged with the investigation and prosecution of the case may have a “sinister motive” to falsely implicate Dewani in the murder of his wife, Anni.

Radebe said “the presumption of innocence remains” should Dewani return to South Africa.

The sole purpose of his extradition was to allow him to stand trial.

He said the justice department at this stage would not comment on processes in UK courts.

“Nor is it appropriate for us to comment in the media on the evidence before the trial commences in South Africa.”

The SA Police Service said on Wednesday it had issued a warrant of arrest for Dewani, accused of plotting to kill his wife Anni while on honeymoon in South Africa, and forwarded the document to British authorities.

Dewani appeared in court in London on Wednesday and was granted bail, which the South African authorities appealed today.

Earlier, Agence France Presse reported that lawyers for the South African authorities had argued there were substantial grounds for suspecting Dewani would not surrender for an extradition hearing later this month were he allowed bail.

High Court Judge Duncan Ouseley, however, disagreed and allowed his application.

Freelance Cape Town shuttle driver Zola Tongo said in a plea agreement in the Cape High Court this week that he helped arrange hitmen, at Dewani’s request, to kill his new bride, Anni.

Dewani claimed they were hijacked after a spur-of-the-moment decision to explore the nightlife of Gugulethu. He and the driver were thrown out. Her body was found in the shuttle the next day. She had been shot.