South Africa 21.10.2014 05:53 pm

Dewani lawyer criticises Cape Town cop

FILE PICTURE: British businessman Shrien Dewani is seen through the window of a car upon arriving at the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, 9 October 2014 for his murder trial. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

FILE PICTURE: British businessman Shrien Dewani is seen through the window of a car upon arriving at the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, 9 October 2014 for his murder trial. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

The policeman who drove businessman Shrien Dewani back to his hotel after a hijacking in 2010 was grilled by Dewani’s defence team in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, highlighted a number of issues that he was displeased with surrounding the State’s ninth witness, Sergeant Cornelius Mellet.

Mellet was on duty at the Harare police station in Khayelitsha when Shrien and his wife Anni were hijacked in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010.

When giving his evidence-in-chief, the policeman referred to notes in his pocketbook and said these were a summarised version of events that he transposed from an initial set of notes.

All his notes and pocketbooks were kept in his safe.

He handed over these particular notes to the investigating officer when he made his statement almost a year after the incident, on October 12, 2011.

Van Zyl said he spoke to the investigating officer and the notes could not be traced.

The lawyer said it was interesting that his pocketbook notes made no mention of the conversation he had with Dewani while driving back to the hotel.

Mellet agreed that there was nothing in the pocketbook to this effect.

Van Zyl accused him of “slipping in” certain details into his testimony.

He said in his evidence-in-chief that Dewani told him during their drive that his wife insisted that she wanted to see the nightlife in the townships one last time.

But, in Mellet’s statement, he never used the word insisted.

“I want to put it to you that this ‘insist’ just slipped into your evidence because you wanted to adjust your evidence or wanted to bring it in line with the other statements that you know the word insist is in,” Van Zyl said.

Mellet, whose testimony was translated from Afrikaans, said it was all the same according to his vocabulary.

Van Zyl also accused him of slipping in information about his client’s demeanour to create a certain atmosphere or suspicion.

Mellet said that was not his intention.

The policeman earlier testified that he found it strange that Dewani had asked for an access key or card back at the hotel and then jogged or ran down the corridor, presumably to his room.

In his statement, he said Dewani “looked panicky and literally ran down the passage”.

Van Zyl asked if he was walking, running or jogging and the officer eventually settled with running.

The lawyer then played two clips of closed-circuit television footage from the hotel that night that clearly showed Dewani walking, if a little fast, down the corridor.

Van Zyl said Dewani was keen to get back to the hotel because he could not make international calls from his cellphone and he wanted to phone his family from the hotel phone.

“That is why he had to get a key at his hotel first because his key was with his wife and he was fairly in a hurry to get back to his room.”

The policeman was excused from the stand.

The State was expected to call a ballistics expert, who would give a demonstration, as its next witness on Wednesday.

Sapa

 

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