Jean-Jacques Cornish

Shrien Dewani walks free

Bristol businessman Shrien Dewani will board a British Airways flight in Cape Town tonight (Tuesday) and head back to London a free man.

Judge Jeanette Traverso found him not guilty of five charges including kidnapping and murder involving the death of his wife in Cape Town on their honeymoon four years ago.

She effectively truncated the trial because the state’s case was so flimsy.

Apart from declaring he was not guilty at the start of the trial two months ago, Shrien Dewani has never spoken in the Cape High Court.

This has incensed the family of Swedish-born Anni Dewani, previously Hindocha, who was murdered in a hijacking on November 13, 2010.

Dewani went home a few days later and South African authorities fought for three years to have him extradited to stand trial in Cape Town.

The prosecution produced a taxi driver, serving a 15 year sentence for planning Anni’s killing. He claimed Dewani had paid him about a thousand euros to have his new wife killed.

Judge Jeanette Traverso says the taxi driver lied on the stand.

She could not allow herself to be swayed by public opinion and ordered that the threshold evidence produced by the state was too weak to enable any reasonable court to find Dewani guilty.

Anni’s brother Ashok says South Africa’s justice system has let them down.

By letting Dwani go without giving evidence and facing cross examination the judge has done half a job.

The family will consider what further action to take outside South Africa.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.