Author Topic: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?  (Read 3080 times)

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Offline John

Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« on: September 03, 2015, 06:08:39 PM »
One of the indisputable facts which comes out of this case is that the under-the-counter money exchange carried out by Shrien Dewani while accompanied by Tongo at the Golden Touch jewellers was illegal under South African Law.

This fact was determined in evidence by the courts.  My question is very simple, why if the evidence relating to this illegal money transaction was so strong, was Dewani not charged in respect of what occurred?

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« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 09:43:11 PM by John »
A malicious prosecution for a crime which never existed. John Lamberton exposes malfeasance by public officials.
Check out my website >   http://johnlamberton.webs.com/index.htm?no_redirect=true     The truth never changes with the passage of time.

Offline dewanifacts

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2015, 08:16:30 PM »
Not sure why this question needed its own thread since it could have been asked in the other money exchange thread.....

The answer to your simple question is equally simple. As I understand it, Dewani did not do anything illegal.

The shop owner was the one who performed an illegal transaction. If Dewani had committed a crime, then he would have been charged and found guilty of that crime as there was clear evidence of him engaging in the transaction.

Dewani's explanation is that he asked Tongo to take him somewhere that he could get a good exchange rate for his foreign currency and Tongo took him to this jewellery shop. There is nothing unusual or suspicious about this explanation. It makes valid sense and is what many tourists do every day, regardless of whether they have also drawn cash from a machine. Tourists assume that locals can advise them where to get a good rate. Unluckily for the Dewanis they got their advice from a crooked gentleman who had gained their trust and was willing to abuse it. 

If anyone did anything illegal it was the three Capetonian locals; the jewellery store owner Maria Bravetti, the shop employee, Thelma or even Tongo - all of whom would have been aware that the transaction was illegal.  Dewani was the foreigner who was taken there by his local trusted tour guide.

The three people involved gave three different versions of events.

Dewani said he changed GBP
Owner Bravetti said he changed $US
Shop assistant Thelma gave a police statement saying that Bravetti gave her some gold at the back of the shop and asked her to take it to another trader to exchange for Rand. It is not at all clear whether that gold was alleged to have come from Dewani, or whether Bravetti simply needed to swap some gold  to get enough Rand to be able to complete the transaction with Dewani. Thelma was not called as a witness in the trial. Any poster in this thread who tries to insinuate that Dewani swapped a gold watch for cash is wildly speculating with no substantiation.

If anyone had an incentive to lie about this transaction, it was the shop owner and the shop assistant who were both carrying out an illegal trade that they both knew was illegal.

Dewani had no reason to lie about what currency he exchanged. How would it benefit him to claim in court that he changed GBP if he actually changed $US? It could only serve to increase suspicion and work against him.

Anyone who tries to label this money changing transaction as clandestine or the cash as "secret money" is simply trying to spin the same silly story as Tongo in a transparent and unsubstantiated attempt to make Dewani look suspicious. The transaction could never have been a secret considering there were other customers in the store, not to mention Bravetti and Thelma. One need look no further than the Dewani trial to see that Bravetti was called as a a witness, so if Dewani had in fact done anything illegal, then Bravetti's testimony would have seen him convicted of that crime.

So what happened to the R10000? That remains one of the unknowns. Dewani claimed that it was in Anni's handbag that was stolen during the robbery. Mngeni claimed that Qwabe took it. I seem to recall that Qwabe claimed that he and Mngeni split it, although Qwabe gave different stories in the Mngeni and Dewani trials.

It should further be remembered that this money exchange trip was one of the areas of testimony where Tongo was caught red handed fabricating evidence designed to incriminate Dewani. Paragraph 23.1.54 from the Dewani judgement reads:

23.1.54 Both in his plea explanation and in his affidavit, he (Tongo) stated that the accused had asked him if he knew of a place where he could exchange dollars for rands and where he did not have to produce his passport. This money was according to Mr. Tongo earmarked to pay the killers. In cross-examination it transpired that the accused never indicated that he did not want to produce his passport. His passport was, in fact, never mentioned. Mr. Tongo stated that that was just something that he (Mr. Tongo) thought. Mr. Tongo attributes the allegation in his affidavit in which he claimed that the accused did not want to produce his passport to a “mistake”. This is a serious mistake – because if in fact the accused deliberately wanted to act in a manner to hide the fact that he changed the money to pay the killers – it would certainly call for an explanation from the accused. It is a further indication of how Mr. Tongo was prepared to lie in a way which creates an atmosphere of suspicion regarding the accused.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 08:20:33 PM by dewanifacts »

Offline John

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 08:42:07 PM »
Not sure why this question needed its own thread since it could have been asked in the other money exchange thread.....

The answer to your simple question is equally simple. As I understand it, Dewani did not do anything illegal.

The shop owner was the one who performed an illegal transaction. If Dewani had committed a crime, then he would have been charged and found guilty of that crime as there was clear evidence of him engaging in the transaction.

Dewani's explanation is that he asked Tongo to take him somewhere that he could get a good exchange rate for his foreign currency and Tongo took him to this jewellery shop. There is nothing unusual or suspicious about this explanation. It makes valid sense and is what many tourists do every day, regardless of whether they have also drawn cash from a machine. Tourists assume that locals can advise them where to get a good rate. Unluckily for the Dewanis they got their advice from a crooked gentleman who had gained their trust and was willing to abuse it. 

If anyone did anything illegal it was the three Capetonian locals; the jewellery store owner Maria Bravetti, the shop employee, Thelma or even Tongo - all of whom would have been aware that the transaction was illegal.  Dewani was the foreigner who was taken there by his local trusted tour guide.

The three people involved gave three different versions of events.

Dewani said he changed GBP
Owner Bravetti said he changed $US
Shop assistant Thelma gave a police statement saying that Bravetti gave her some gold at the back of the shop and asked her to take it to another trader to exchange for Rand. It is not at all clear whether that gold was alleged to have come from Dewani, or whether Bravetti simply needed to swap some gold  to get enough Rand to be able to complete the transaction with Dewani. Thelma was not called as a witness in the trial. Any poster in this thread who tries to insinuate that Dewani swapped a gold watch for cash is wildly speculating with no substantiation.

If anyone had an incentive to lie about this transaction, it was the shop owner and the shop assistant who were both carrying out an illegal trade that they both knew was illegal.

Dewani had no reason to lie about what currency he exchanged. How would it benefit him to claim in court that he changed GBP if he actually changed $US? It could only serve to increase suspicion and work against him.

Anyone who tries to label this money changing transaction as clandestine or the cash as "secret money" is simply trying to spin the same silly story as Tongo in a transparent and unsubstantiated attempt to make Dewani look suspicious. The transaction could never have been a secret considering there were other customers in the store, not to mention Bravetti and Thelma. One need look no further than the Dewani trial to see that Bravetti was called as a a witness, so if Dewani had in fact done anything illegal, then Bravetti's testimony would have seen him convicted of that crime.

So what happened to the R10000? That remains one of the unknowns. Dewani claimed that it was in Anni's handbag that was stolen during the robbery. Mngeni claimed that Qwabe took it. I seem to recall that Qwabe claimed that he and Mngeni split it, although Qwabe gave different stories in the Mngeni and Dewani trials.

It should further be remembered that this money exchange trip was one of the areas of testimony where Tongo was caught red handed fabricating evidence designed to incriminate Dewani. Paragraph 23.1.54 from the Dewani judgement reads:

23.1.54 Both in his plea explanation and in his affidavit, he (Tongo) stated that the accused had asked him if he knew of a place where he could exchange dollars for rands and where he did not have to produce his passport. This money was according to Mr. Tongo earmarked to pay the killers. In cross-examination it transpired that the accused never indicated that he did not want to produce his passport. His passport was, in fact, never mentioned. Mr. Tongo stated that that was just something that he (Mr. Tongo) thought. Mr. Tongo attributes the allegation in his affidavit in which he claimed that the accused did not want to produce his passport to a “mistake”. This is a serious mistake – because if in fact the accused deliberately wanted to act in a manner to hide the fact that he changed the money to pay the killers – it would certainly call for an explanation from the accused. It is a further indication of how Mr. Tongo was prepared to lie in a way which creates an atmosphere of suspicion regarding the accused.

My understanding is that in Law, all parties to any illegal money/currency exchange are equally culpable.  Ignorance is not a reasonable excuse in most jurisdictions.  Dewani was well versed in financial matters, I find it hard to believe for a minute that he didn't know what he was doing was illegal.

Another question. Was the shop assistant and the owner of the establishment prosecuted or were given immunity too for testifying?

And why would anyone want to take cash out on a dinner date to a destination which was miles away, cash which was allegedly needed to pay for a helicopter trip on another day?  Paying a complete stranger all that cash up front was not the actions of the astute businessman which Dewani claims to be.

Was it ever confirmed by any of the helicopter operators that such trip had been booked or was that all a fiction too?
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 09:05:29 PM by John »
A malicious prosecution for a crime which never existed. John Lamberton exposes malfeasance by public officials.
Check out my website >   http://johnlamberton.webs.com/index.htm?no_redirect=true     The truth never changes with the passage of time.

Offline dewanifacts

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 09:24:34 PM »
  Ignorance is not a reasonable excuse in most jurisdictions.  Dewani was well versed in financial matters, I find it hard to believe for a minute that he didn't know what he was doing was illegal.

Another question. Was the shop assistant and the owner of the establishment prosecuted or were given immunity too for testifying?

And why would anyone want to take cash out on a dinner date to a destination which was miles away, cash which was allegedly needed to pay for a helicopter trip on another day?  Paying a complete stranger all that cash up front was not the actions of the astute businessman which Dewani claims to be.

Was it ever confirmed by any of the helicopter operators that such trip had been booked or was that all a fiction too?

Ignorance is not an excuse at law, however in most circumstances courts will not convict someone for minor offences if a reasonable case can be made to suggest that they believed they were acting lawfully.

The laws governing currency trading in South Africa are quirky and peculiar to that country. For example, there is no law in the UK to stop a jewellery store exchanging currency, is there? If I think of the countries I have visited this year, I would not have the foggiest idea about which countries allow trading of currency in which type of shops. Are you well versed in this field? Is there any reason to believe that an accountant from Bristol would be aware of the quirks of South African currency trading laws?

The shop owner was given immunity from prosecution if she testified truthfully. The assistant wasn't called as a witness, which should raise some red flags. Why would the prosecutors not be confident enough in her testimony? It clearly would have assisted their case.

The helicopter trip existed purely in Tongo's  mind. Dewani believed him and that was all that Tongo required.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 09:27:07 PM by dewanifacts »

Offline dewanifacts

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2015, 09:47:57 PM »
One of the indisputable facts which comes out of this case is that the under-the-counter money exchange carried out by Shrien Dewani while accompanied by Tongo at the Golden Touch jewellers was illegal under South African Law.

This fact was determined in evidence by the courts.  My question is very simple, why if the evidence relating to this illegal money transaction was so strong, was Dewani not charged in respect of what occurred?

My understanding is that the law regarding currency exchange is quirky in South Africa and is not black and white. I remember reading somewhere that it is partly in place to stop people using pawn shops in certain ways to launder proceeds of crime.  You seem very definite and clear in your statements above so you appear to have a strong grasp on it.

You mention that it was determined in evidence in court. I can find no mention of such in the Dewani judgement.

Can you please clarify which evidence you are referring to and/or point to a source that makes you so sure that a) this money exchange was illegal and b) that Dewani committed a crime by being party to it.



« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 09:50:35 PM by dewanifacts »

Offline Admin

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 02:33:45 AM »
My understanding is that the law regarding currency exchange is quirky in South Africa and is not black and white. I remember reading somewhere that it is partly in place to stop people using pawn shops in certain ways to launder proceeds of crime.  You seem very definite and clear in your statements above so you appear to have a strong grasp on it.

You mention that it was determined in evidence in court. I can find no mention of such in the Dewani judgement.

Can you please clarify which evidence you are referring to and/or point to a source that makes you so sure that a) this money exchange was illegal and b) that Dewani committed a crime by being party to it.

In South Africa it is illegal to buy or sell foreign currency to anyone except an authorised dealer.

http://www.southafrica.info/travel/advice/currency.htm#.Vej0lZeOy2A#ixzz3kjHhM07T

Offline Admin

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 02:47:01 AM »
Dewani trial: Currency exchange store owner testifies



The owner of a Cape Town currency exchange store on Tuesday insisted that businessman Shrien Dewani gave her US dollars to exchange in 2010 while his lawyer said British pounds were handed over.

Maria Bravetti, owner of the Golden Touch jewellers in central Cape Town, was called as the State’s sixth witness in Dewani’s trial in the Western Cape High Court.

She was warned that any evidence she gave could incriminate her and that she may be prosecuted if she did not answer truthfully.

More...
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 02:51:59 AM by Admin »

Offline dewanifacts

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2015, 08:05:22 AM »
Thanks, that clarifies the legal position.

Might I suggest that this series of posts is moved into the other thread ("Dewani and the illegal money exchange") so that the same discussion does not need to be duplicated in two threads?

Offline John

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2015, 09:42:53 PM »
My question still stands, anyone changing currency in South Africa has to do so thorough a licences dealer or bank.  Dewani went to a back street jeweller to change currency thus avoiding South Afrtican tax.  This was illegal and he should have been prosecuted and fined.

Why wasn't he?
A malicious prosecution for a crime which never existed. John Lamberton exposes malfeasance by public officials.
Check out my website >   http://johnlamberton.webs.com/index.htm?no_redirect=true     The truth never changes with the passage of time.

Offline dewanifacts

Re: Why was Dewani not charged with illegal money exchange?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2015, 10:10:43 PM »
Maybe because he was a victim of a savage crime and lost his wife? What I said earlier also stands. Ignorance is not an excuse at law, however in most circumstances courts will not convict someone for minor offences if a reasonable case can be made to suggest that they believed they were acting lawfully.

Your suggestion that he avoided paying tax is wrong. The shop owner avoided declared income and consequently tax but Dewani's only potential benefit was getting a good rate. With hindsight, some have pointed out that he probably didn't even benefit in that way. Tongo really did a number on him.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 08:25:09 AM by dewanifacts »