2 minute read
9 Sep 2014
12:30 pm

Shrien Dewani’s legal team wants records

British businessman Shrien Dewani's lawyers on Tuesday asked for certain phone bills and prison records to help them with his murder trial in the Western Cape High Court next month.

FILE PICTURE: Prakash (front right), father of British businessman and murder accused Shrien Dewani, is seen leaving the Western Cape High Court with relatives on Friday, 15 August 2014. Dewani has been found fit to stand trial. He would go on trial on October 6. Dewani would remain at Valkenberg Hospital for counselling and detention leading up to and for the duration of the trial. Dewani claimed that he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010. The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. He was released unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, said he wanted documents from the correctional services department that recorded prison visits to Zola Tongo and Mziwamadoda Qwabe by police and legal officials.

Tongo, Qwabe, and Xolile Mngeni are serving jail terms in connection with the murder of Dewani’s wife Anni.

Dewani, who the State alleges conspired with the men, has not yet been asked to plead to charges including murder and kidnapping.

Dressed in a black suit and white shirt, he seemed relaxed in the dock on Tuesday morning and listened attentively to the proceedings.

Van Zyl said the department gave them prison records last Friday, but they were incomplete.

“I give the court the assurance that this is not a fishing expedition,” he said.

Judge Robert Henney ordered the investigating officer, Captain Paul Hendrickse, to help the legal team get copies of the documents before next Friday, to avoid unnecessary delays to the trial.

The defence team also subpoenaed Tongo’s ex-lawyer, William da Grass to appear before the court on Tuesday.

He was called to the witness stand and asked to hand over his landline and cellphone bills from November 2010.

The defence team had subpoenaed him for these records last month, but this was later withdrawn.

Da Grass said he obtained the billing for his landline after the initial subpoena, but did not pursue records for his cellphones after the subpoena was withdrawn.

He had no problem with the request, but had been unable to obtain instructions from Tongo as to his privilege. He did not wish to infringe on Tongo’s constitutional rights.

“I abide with whatever order the court makes. All I am saying is that there is one missing element and that is Mr Tongo’s views.”

Van Zyl said the defence team was asking for detailed billing by a third party and fee notes, none of which would reveal the substance of communication between himself and Tongo.

The court felt Tongo, as a State witness, could be asked during Dewani’s trial if he had any objection.

Henney asked Da Grass to hand over the records by next Friday.

Dewani claimed he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu, Cape Town, in a minibus taxi during their honeymoon in November 2010.

He was released unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

Last month, the court heard that a mental health panel had unanimously found Dewani was fit to stand trial on October 6.

The National Prosecuting Authority said at the time that his trial was expected to continue until December 12.

– Sapa