herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Bisexual husband denies plotting to have bride killed

Businessman Shrien Dewani has denied arranging the killing of his wife, Anni, during their honeymoon in Cape Town almost four years ago.

Mr Dewani (35) pleaded not guilty to five charges including murder and kidnapping at the opening of his trial yesterday in the Cape Town High Court.

In a statement read out by his lawyer, Francois van Zyl, he said that while he considered himself bisexual, he underwent hormone treatment so he could have a family with Anni.

Mr Dewani returned to South Africa on April 8 after losing a battle to prevent his extradition from the UK.

gunshot

He was charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, robbery and defeating the ends of justice.

Mr Dewani says he and Anni were carjacked at gunpoint while traveling in a taxi through Cape Town's Gugulethu township on November 13, 2010. While he was released, his wife was found dead on the back seat of the abandoned vehicle the next day with a gunshot wound in her neck.

Mr Dewani said he met taxi driver Zola Tongo shortly after arriving at Cape Town airport on his honeymoon, hired his vehicle and asked him to arrange a private helicopter flight as a surprise for his wife.

Tongo collected the couple after dinner one evening and Mr Dewani thought he was taking them to the helicopter.

"We turned off the motorway," he wrote. "The next thing I remember was banging noises from the right-hand side of the car. The next thing I recall is somebody next to me who told me to lie down. This person had a gun in his hand."

Mr Dewani said he was later ordered to leave the vehicle.

"I insisted that we both have to stay together," he wrote. "They became angrier and shouted at me to get out. The one with the gun put it to my head and threatened to shoot me if I did not get out."

Xolile Mngeni admitted to the shooting and was jailed for life in 2012, while accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who also pleaded guilty to murder, received a 25-year prison sentence. Tongo, who was jailed for 18 years for being an accomplice to the crime, said in a plea bargain that Dewani paid him to arrange a hit on his wife.

South Africa's murder rate is 6.7 times higher than that of the US. There were 17,068 homicides committed in the country in the 12 months through March, about 800 more than the previous year.

hnews@herald.ie

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