Dewani trial hears chilling testimony of honeymoon hit

8th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

Chilling testimony on Wednesday from a man convicted of murdering the bride of British millionaire Shrien Dewani placed the blame squarely on the bisexual businessman.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe told the Cape Town High Court that Dewani's taxi driver had contacted him and said "there was a husband who wanted his wife to be killed".

Qwabe then detailed how he and an accomplice staged a hijacking, let the driver and Dewani go, and shot the woman before going out to party with the cash they had made for killing her.

The payment was meant to be 15,000 rand ($1,300, 1,000 euros), but was 1,000 rand short, he told the court.

Dewani said in a statement read to the court by his lawyer on the first day of the trial on Monday that he had offered 15,000 rand to the taxi driver to arrange a private helicopter tour of Cape Town as a surprise for his bride.

A Google search shows that the most expensive ordinary helicopter ride over the scenic city, lasting about an hour, costs 9,000 rand for up to three people.

Dewani is accused of conspiring to have his 28-year-old Swedish-born wife Anni (nee Hindocha) murdered while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010.

The prosecution is expected to argue that he wanted her dead because he is a gay man who felt trapped in an arranged marriage.

On the first day of the trial, in an apparent effort to pre-empt this argument, Dewani admitted to sex with male prostitutes but said he considered himself to be bisexual.

He said he had been in love with his wife and that when he heard of her death "my whole world came crashing down".

The wealthy businessman says that during the hijacking he was forced out of the vehicle at gunpoint before the assailants drove off with his wife. She was later found shot dead.

There was no explanation in his statement of why Anni had been kept in the vehicle while he was thrown out.

A state pathologist testified that there were no signs that she had been raped.

In what could be another pre-emptive effort against the prosecution, which is believed to have records of mobile phone text messages, Dewani described receiving a text from the taxi driver shortly before the hijacking, while he and Anni were in the car.

He said: "I cannot recall the exact words of the text message but it was something about money.

"The gist of it was have you got it, or something like that. I understood this to be a reference to the money for the helicopter ride and accepted that he texted me as he knew that it was to be a surprise for Anni.

"I replied confirming that I had it."

South Africans have been outraged by the idea that Dewani believed he could get away with murdering his wife because of the country's notoriously high crime rate.

Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his role in the crime, under the terms of a plea bargain reached in August 2012.

His accomplice Xolile Mngeni is serving life for firing the lethal shot, while the taxi driver, Zola Tongo, is serving 18 years in jail.

Dewani returned to Britain within days of Anni's death, and fought a three-year legal battle to avoid being extradited to South Africa, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.

But he was sent back to South Africa in April, where he was found fit to stand trial.

The families of Dewani and Anni, both of Indian origin, are attending the trial, sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom.

© 2014 AFP

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