2 minute read
6 Oct 2014
10:40 am

Anni Dewani’s family arrives in court

The families of slain honeymooner Anni Dewani and her murder-accused husband Shrien sat on opposite ends of courtroom two, in the Western Cape High Court, on Monday morning.

FILE PICTURE: A member of the ruling African National Congress Women's League holds a picture of Anni Dewani during a protest against violence against women, outside the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, on April 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

Shrien Dewani’s family, including his mother and father, seemed relatively calm and cheerful, chatting to his defence team and each other.

On the other side, Anni’s family sat quietly and looked around.

Dewani was expected to be led into the courtroom at 10am.

Around 40 people packed the benches in the overhead public gallery. They watched as journalists pushed and shoved through a narrow court door earlier to secure a spot, aware that their accreditation tags would not automatically secure them the best spot in the house.

Two flat-screen television sets were set up in the front of the court. Two smaller screens were placed next to the prosecution and defence teams.

Dewani had his own flat-screen television fixed to the dock.

He is later expected to plead to the five charges against him – conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

Initially seen as a hijacking that ended in tragedy on Saturday night November 13, 2010, police later claimed they had evidence that Dewani conspired with others to kill Anni.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as they were being driven through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a minibus taxi. He was released unharmed but Anni was 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 the murder and were jailed.

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

Accomplices Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni – who shot Anni – were handed 25-year and life sentences 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 psychiatric observation.

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

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Town on Sunday evening, Anni’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

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