Shrien Dewani has been cleared of murdering his wife Anni during their South Africa honeymoon, after the judge threw out the case.
Judge Jeanette Traverso said the evidence presented by the prosecution fell “far below the threshold” of what a reasonable court could convict on.
She said the evidence of the prosecution’s main witness was “riddled with contradictions”.
Anni Dewani’s family said they had been failed by the justice system.
Announcing her ruling, the judge said the only reason not to grant the application would be in the hope that Shrien Dewani would implicate himself if he gave evidence.
Shrien Dewani, a 34-year-old British business, was extradited to South Africa this year to face trial accused of planning the murder of his wife in November 2010.
He listened intently as key evidence against him was criticized by the judge as she gave her ruling over almost three hours.
Shrien Dewani went straight down to the cells to prepare for his release, following the decision, as his family embraced.
It is believed he left the court, without making a comment, through a side entrance.
Shrien Dewani’s family, who had said it would it be a “nightmare” if the trial did not continue, immediately left the court room.
They bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.
Her uncle, Ashok Hindocha said the family would be going through the case with their lawyers to confirm whether they can file a lawsuit against Shrien Dewani in the UK.
The judge ruled it was not necessary for Shrien Dewani to give evidence, saying a defendant was entitled to be discharged if there was no possibility of conviction unless he entered the witness box and incriminated himself.
The judge said the evidence from the three criminals already convicted over Anni Dewani’s murder was “so improbable, with so many mistakes, lies and inconsistencies you cannot see where the lies ended and the truth begins”.
Shrien Dewani has always denied plotting with others to murder his bride, who was found shot dead in the back of their taxi after the couple were hijacked during a late-night tour of a township.
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Xolile Mngeni, the man jailed for shooting dead Anni Dewani in 2010, has died in prison, South Africa’s correctional services department has said.
Xolile Mngeni, who was convicted of killing Anni Dewani while she was on her honeymoon, had been serving a life sentence for her murder.
His death comes amid the trial in Cape Town of British businessman Shrien Dewani, who denies arranging his wife’s murder.
Xolile Mngeni, 27, died in the hospital section of Cape Town prison, officials said.
South Africa’s correctional services department has said it will make a full statement about his death on October 18.
Xolile Mngeni was jailed for shooting dead Anni Dewani in 2010
The death of Xolile Mngeni comes 12 days after Shrien Dewani went on trial.
Shrien Dewani, 34, faces five charges including murder and lying about the circumstances of his wife’s death.
He denies any involvement in the killing, which happened in the Gugulethu area of Cape Town.
Reports suggest prosecutors in South Africa had spoken to Xolile Mngeni but had not planned to call him as a witness in the trial because of the poor state of his health.
Xolile Mngeni was known to have had a rare brain tumor removed in 2011.
Anni Dewani was kidnapped at gunpoint and shot dead in Gugulethu, a township near Cape Town on 13 November 2010 while on honeymoon in South Africa. Shrien Dewani, who was kidnapped alongside her, was later released unharmed.
Xolile Mngeni was charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and kidnapping three days after her death and was convicted on November 19, 2012, of firing the shots that killed Anni Dewani, having denied the charges.
Shrien Dewani agreed to pay about £1,300 ($2,000) to a hitman for the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa, a court has been told.
On the second day of the trial in Cape Town, Mziwamadoda Qwabe said he was asked to make it look like a hijacking.
British businessman Shrien Dewani, 34, denies murdering his wife Anni, 28, on their honeymoon in 2010.
The couple was held at gunpoint while being driven in a taxi through Gugulethu township near Cape Town.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe told the Western Cape High Court that taxi driver Zola Tonga had told him “there was a husband who wanted his wife to be killed”.
Shrien Dewani faces five charges, including murder and lying about the circumstances of Swedish national Anni’s death.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe, from Cape Town, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012 for the murder of Anni Dewani.
Prosecutors claim Shrien Dewani conspired with him, and other Cape Town residents Zola Tongo and Xolile Mngeni.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 29, told the court Tongo phoned him and said he had a job that needed to be done – that someone needed to be killed.
He said Zola Tongo agreed to meet him the next day to discuss the murder, and a price of 15,000 rand was agreed.
The pair then arranged to meet up with Zola Tongo’s taxi for the attack, during which Shrien Dewani’s phone would also be taken.
Shrien Dewani agreed to pay a hitman for the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa
He told the court the money was due to be left in a “cubby hole” in the vehicle which would later be split before the pair spent an evening “socializing”.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe was asked if there was any discussion about a weapon. He said: “I knew there would be a firearm involved.”
He told the court Zola Tongo called him later and told him the route the taxi would take on the evening of November 13, 2010.
Describing the carjacking, Mziwamadoda Qwabe said: “[Xolile Mngeni] had the gun. As it [Zola Tongo’s car] approached I got into the driver’s side.
“[Xolile Mngeni] got into the passenger side and Zola got into the back. I saw in the (rear view) window a guy and behind me was a lady,” he said.
“I ordered Zola to get out of the car. He told me the money was in a pouch behind the front passenger door.
“I stopped the vehicle, I asked the husband to get out of the car.
“The husband was now out of the vehicle and I drove on.”
Mziwamadoda Qwabe told the court he was behind the wheel when Anni Dewani was fatally wounded.
He said he was concentrating on the road at the moment Xolile Mngeni killed her.
“I heard a gun shot. [Xolile Mngeni] said <<I shot the lady>>.
“I pulled over on to the pavement and stopped the car. I saw she [Anni Dewani] was on the back seat of the car.”
Mziwamadoda Qwabe said he found the bullet casing then threw his gloves away.
He told the court 10,000 rand was in the pouch and 4,000 rand was seized from “the husband”.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe admitted he had lied in court at a bail hearing before he admitted his guilt over the murder.
Francois van Zyl, representing Shrien Dewani, said: “At that bail hearing you testified under oath, you pleaded not guilty because you said you had an alibi. Is that a lie?”
Mziwamadoda Qwabe replied: “My lawyer at the time told me to plead not guilty.”
Francois van Zyl said: “I repeat the question. Was that a lie under oath?”
Mziwamadoda Qwabe answered: “Yes.”
The court was told there had been no conversations with Zola Tongo about how Anni Dewani would be killed, only that it had to look like a hijacking.
Francois van Zyl asked: “You never had a discussion about how this woman was going to be killed?”
Mziwamadoda Qwabe answered: “No, sir.”
He told the court it was not decided who would strike the fatal blow, what weapon would be used, or where the killing would take place.
On October 6, Shrien Dewani told the court in a written statement that his “whole world came crashing down” when his wife was found killed.
The trial was adjourned until October 9.
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