Shrien Dewani will get fair trial in South Africa
10 Dec 2010Suggestions have surfaced in the international media that Shrien Dewani may not get a fair trial should he be extradited to South Africa. The suggestions are without the slightest foundation. The opposite is the case and the record must be set straight.
The integrity of the administration of justice and the judicial system of our country is widely recognised and respected. South Africa is a constitutional state which is subject to the rule of law. The independence of the judiciary holds good, both in terms of the law and in practice.
All accused persons brought before a court of law to answer to a case, enjoy the full range of constitutional guarantees to a fair trial. Section 35(3) of our constitution gives accused persons, amongst other rights, the following fair trial safeguards:
- the right to be present at their own trials
- the right to be represented by a legal practitioner
- the right to be presumed innocent and
- the right to adduce and challenge evidence.
These rights are automatically conferred on all persons immediately they become accused persons in a South African court of law, whether they are citizens, residents or foreign nationals. 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. The presumption of innocence remains, should he be returned to SA. Only a competent court of law, and no one else, can and will determine Shrien Dewani’s guilt or innocence, according to the admissible evidence. This is as it should be and as it happens in all societies around the world that adhere to the rule of law. South Africa is no different.
The sole purpose of his extradition is to allow him to stand trial, where he will be able to challenge the evidence against him and to lead any evidence, should he so decide, that might point to his innocence.
In the meanwhile, the legal proceedings in the UK regarding Mr Dewani’s arrest, further detention and extradition, must be allowed to take their course, according to the UK’s laws. The Department of Justice will not be drawn into commenting on what is happening in the UK courts at this stage. Nor is it appropriate for us to comment in the media on the evidence before the trial commences in South Africa. Investigations are not conducted through the media. The Minister of Justice therefore urges everyone to exercise restraint.
Finally, it is simply untrue that the South African authorities charged with the investigation and prosecution of this case may have some sinister motive falsely to implicate Mr Dewani. The investigation, prosecution and related legal proceedings all proceed according to the available evidence as it unfolds. This is how all criminal matters are and should be pursued.
Cell: 082 333 3880
Source: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
10 Dec 2010
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