Honeymoon husband arrested over wife's murder
Published 08/12/2010 | 08:04
A British newlywed accused of paying to have his bride killed on their honeymoon in South Africa has been arrested in the UK on suspicion of conspiring to murder her, police said.
Shrien Dewani, whose wife Anni was shot dead last month as they visited a township, was held last night by Scotland Yard extradition officers after a request from the South African authorities.
It followed a court hearing in South Africa yesterday, during which taxi driver Zola Tongo said he was offered 15,000 rand (€1,600) (£1,300) by the 30-year-old businessman to kill his wife. The Dewani family dismissed the allegation as "totally ludicrous".
Mr Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, handed himself in at a police station in the city yesterday, the Metropolitan Police said.
He is due to appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.
Swedish Mrs Dewani, 28, was shot dead on November 13 after the couple's taxi was hijacked in the impoverished Gugulethu township in Cape Town.
Mr Dewani, who was released along with the driver by the carjackers, returned to England after the murder and has always denied any involvement in his wife's death.
At Western Cape High Court yesterday, Tongo said the businessman offered £1,300 (€1,600) for the killing just hours after the couple arrived in the country last month.
Tongo's allegation formed part of a plea agreement drawn up with prosecutors at the court, where he was jailed for 18 years for his part in the killing on November 13.
Mr Dewani's spokesman Max Clifford yesterday described the accusations as the latest in a string of false allegations against his client.
In a statement, the Dewani family said: "Shrien is totally innocent of any involvement in this heinous crime.
"These allegations are totally ludicrous and very hurtful to a young man who is grieving the loss of the woman he loved, his chosen life partner.
"South African police have never sought to speak to Shrien regarding the allegations. Instead, two weeks have been spent negotiating this confession from the taxi driver while the two others accused have complained of torture and false confessions."
In his formal admission, 31-year-old Tongo said he was waiting for fares at Cape Town International Airport when Mr Dewani asked to be driven to the five-star Cape Grace hotel where he allegedly offered 15,000 rand (€1,600) to "have a client of his taken off the scene".
The "hijacking" was arranged with the help of two hitmen - Xolile Mnguni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, both from Khayelitsha - for the next evening, he said.
Tongo claimed he was ordered out of the car when the hitmen struck.
"They then drove off with Shrien Dewani and the deceased still in the vehicle," he said.
"I knew that (the hitmen) would not harm Shrien Dewani and that he would be dropped off at some further point. I also knew that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and murdered ... after Shrien Dewani had been ejected from the vehicle in accordance with the plan."
Mnguni, 23, and Qwabe, 25, also face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping and will appear at Wynberg Regional Court on February 25.
The Dewanis, who are understood to have met when relatives introduced them in England 15 months earlier, had only been married for a fortnight at the time of the killing.
Mrs Dewani's father, Vinod Hindocha, struggled to contain his grief during yesterday's hearing and left the packed courtroom with tears in his eyes.
Brigadier Sally de Beer, of the South African Police Service national media centre, said: "I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of the husband of the slain tourist, Anni Dewani, was obtained by the South African Police Service after testimony implicating Shrien Dewani in her murder was given in court.
"The warrant of arrest was forwarded to our counterparts in the UK - the foreign assistance division - who acknowledged receipt and advised that they would act on it.
"The normal processes will now be followed, in conjunction with relevant role players, in order to ensure that justice takes its course in this matter."