2 minute read
6 Oct 2014
7:31 am

Monday is d-day for Shrien Dewani

The trial of Shrien Dewani - accused of murdering his wife during their Cape Town honeymoon - is set to begin today in Cape Town.

FILE PICTURE: British businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of the murder of his wife Anni, is seen in the back of a police vehicle as he leaves the Western Cape High Court on Friday, 15 August 2014. Dewani has been found fit to stand trial. He would go on trial on October 6. Dewani claimed that he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010. The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. He was released unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Local and international media are expected to pack the benches of the Western Cape High Court when the British businessman appears before Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso.

The trial has been set down until December 12.

Initially seen as a hijacking that ended in tragedy on Saturday night November 13, 2010, the incident took a darker turn when police claimed they had evidence that Dewani conspired with others to kill her.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as they were being driven through Gugulethu in a minibus taxi. He was released unharmed but Anni driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus on Sunday, November 14.

A series of delays played out over the next four years, punctuated by efforts to extradite Dewani to South Africa and consistent claims by his defence that he was innocent, and mentally unfit to stand trial.

In the same period, three Capetonians stood trial for her murder and were jailed.

Driver Zola Tongo said in a plea bargain – following which he was jailed to 18 years – that Dewani had offered him R15,000 to have Anni Killed.

Accomplices Mziwamadoda Qwabe, and Xolile Mngeni – who shot Anni – were handed down a 25 year and life sentence respectively.

Dewani was eventually extradited in April this year and sent to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. In mid-August, he was declared fit to stand trial after undergoing psychatric observation.

He will remain at the hospital for the duration of the trial.

According to an indictment previously handed to the court, Dewani is charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

He has not yet been asked to plead.

Controversy has also arisen after attempts by various media houses to be granted permission to broadcast the full trial.

A proposed compromise whereby a 15 minute photo opportunity would be allocated and the closing argument and judgment broadcast live — was not welcomed as sufficient by the SA National Editors’ Forum.

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Town on Sunday evening, Anni Dewani’s father Vinod Hindocha said the family wanted to know the truth about her death.

“Now that I am here all that I ask for is the full story and justice.

“It is now up to the South African justice system to obtain the full story of how my little daughter died.”

– Sapa