Thursday 14 December 2017

Honeymoon murder: Anni Dewani's family speak of grief over killing

A wealthy businessman accused of paying for the murder of his wife on honeymoon committed an "unforgivable" crime if the allegation is true, his sister-in-law has said.

Shrien Dewani, 30, is suspected of ordering the killing of his bride Anni, 28, who was found dead in the back of an abandoned taxi with a bullet wound to her neck.

Anni's sister, Ami Denborg, refused to be drawn on whether her family thought Dewani was behind the murder in South Africa on November 13.

But she said that if he was guilty, "then what he has done is unforgivable".

She told The Times: "You can't just kill somebody. It is scary."

She spoke out about the family's grief as the South African authorities prepared their appeal against a judge's decision to grant Dewani bail yesterday.

The appeal will be heard by a High Court judge tomorrow and Dewani will be held in custody until then.

The care home owner, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, was denied his freedom at the 11th hour yesterday when the South African government said they would appeal against the decision to release him.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who drove the newlyweds to the dangerous Cape Town township of Gugulethu where his cab was hijacked, said the businessman offered 15,000 rand (€16,500) for the killing just hours after the couple arrived in the country.

It emerged today that Dewani was reportedly seen on CCTV paying cash to the cabbie "days after Anni's body was found".

A Cape Town police source told The Sun that the footage showed the two men meeting in a hotel, where Dewani allegedly handed over money to the driver.

Brigadier Sally de Beer of the South African Police Service said she could not comment on the report, adding: "Whatever evidence we have will be produced in court."

Mrs Denborg, 32, speaking from the family's home country of Sweden, said: "It is terrible enough to lose a sister but it is even more terrible to lose a sister in such a way.

"The most sad part in all of this is that it doesn't matter what happens to Shrien, to the driver, or to whoever killed her - I will never get my sister back."

Recalling meeting Dewani for the first time, she described him as charming and a really nice man who liked to joke around.

He was caring and protective of her sister, she added.

But she would not comment on whether she had ever expressed doubts about the marriage, saying only that she did not worry for her sister.

Dewani was led away from the dock at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in handcuffs yesterday after a dramatic turn of events saw him granted bail, only to be told shortly afterwards that he could not be released, pending the outcome of the prosecutors' appeal.

District Judge Howard Riddle said the suspected killer could be freed on £250,000 (€300,000) bail with an electronic tag and other strict conditions, but solicitors working on behalf of prosecutors in South Africa lodged documents that meant the decision must be reviewed by a High Court judge.

Tongo's allegation formed part of a plea agreement drawn up with prosecutors at Western Cape High Court in South Africa, where he was jailed for 18 years earlier this week for his part in the killing.

The taxi driver claimed Dewani ordered the killing to appear like a bungled carjacking.

A second conspirator told South African investigators he believed Dewani had arranged another murder in similar circumstances in the country before, but there is no evidence to support this.

The court heard that investigators have questioned why Dewani did not use an airport-to-hotel shuttle service - hiring Tongo instead - and why Tongo had taken the couple to such a dangerous area when the restaurant they wanted to visit there was closed.

Clare Montgomery QC, representing Dewani, said her client was accused by a group of self-confessed robbers and murderers desperate to escape a life sentence and branded the case against him as "flimsy".

She suggested it was cooked up to defend the reputation of South Africa as a tourist destination as it would "seriously damage the reputation of South Africa if it were merely the work of a local gang".

Press Association

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