Sunday 25 March 2018

'Net closing' on man accused of hiring hitmen to kill wife

John Bingham and Richard Savill

THE "net is closing" around a businessman accused of having his wife killed on honeymoon, after police obtained evidence of a black market deal and meetings with one of the murderers, a court heard.

Shrien Dewani, who faces extradition to South Africa over the murder of Anni, was released from prison yesterday by a senior judge after his family put up £250,000 (€299,000) bail.

But the High Court in London was told that South African police were convinced there was now a "powerful" case against him.

The 30-year-old care home boss from Bristol is accused of hiring hitmen to shoot his wife of two weeks in a staged carjacking.

Mrs Dewani (28) was abducted by two men as the couple were driven through a township in Cape Town after a night out on November 13.

Mr Dewani and Zola Tongo, the driver, were thrown out of the vehicle before her death. Tongo has pleaded guilty to murder, claiming Mr Dewani asked him to arrange it.

Ben Watson, for the South African government, told Mr Justice Ouseley yesterday that CCTV from the five-star hotel in which Mr Dewani stayed showed him meeting Tongo several times, without his wife, when Tongo claims Mr Dewani asked him to hire hitmen.

Footage was also said to show him "surreptitiously" handing the man a package of cash three days later, after leaving his grieving father-in-law, Vinod Hindocha.

Mr Watson told the court that Mr Dewani and the driver had visited a black market currency exchange on the morning before the killing.

Its staff confirmed to police that he exchanged $1,500 (€1,134) into South African rand without having to show his passport, Mr Watson said.

The figure is equivalent to what members of the gang have claimed they were paid.

Mr Watson said the US dollars appeared to be separate from the £1,000 (€1,190) Mr Dewani withdrew from cash machines using his Mastercard in the days before the killing.

Three days after the killing, there was also a cash payment to Tongo of 1,000 rand (€108).

"We say that the net is closing, and while Mr Dewani may have been willing to hand himself in before, he may have strong reasons why he would not now," Mr Watson said.

Clare Montgomery QC, for Mr Dewani, dismissed the claims as "absurd". She said it was impossible he could have arrived at Cape Town airport, picked up a taxi and recruited the driver as an assassin in little more than an hour.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News