2 minute read
5 Nov 2014
7:01 pm

Dewani did not mention money, says policeman

British businessman Shrien Dewani said nothing about money being taken from him, nor a surprise helicopter trip for his wife Anni, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

FILE PICTURE: British businessman Shrien Dewani appears in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, 6 October 2014. He pleaded not guilty to killing his wife Anni in Cape Town in 2010. Apart from murder Dewani is also charged with kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and conspiracy to commit these crimes. He is also charged with defeating the ends of justice. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA/Pool

Captain Vinesh Lutchman was called as the State’s 13th witness in her husband Shrien’s trial.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with his shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder, and defeating the ends of justice. Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13. He was released unharmed and Anni driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking for which he paid R15,000.

Dewani maintains Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for R15,000.

Lutchman was the group commander at the Gugulethu police station at that time and the weekend duty officer who oversaw the initial investigation of the hijacking.

He interviewed Dewani at the crime office in Gugulethu. Lutchman’s superior then interviewed a shocked Dewani at the Cape Grace Hotel and took down a statement.

Lutchman told prosecutor Shareen Riley that Dewani had said his wife insisted on seeing the nightlife in the township and Tongo drove them to Gugulethu.

Two men hijacked their vehicle. One of them took their cellphones, his watch and one of his wife’s rings.

Dewani apparently told the policemen he managed to keep one ring and hide it between the vehicle’s seats.

“There was no mention of any money in his possession… there was no mention of any helicopter trip,” Lutchman told Riley.

Upon Lutchman’s instructions, someone interviewed Tongo and Dewani to compile identikits of the suspects. A police trauma counsellor was also arranged.

Dewani apparently refused counselling because he said the counsellor smelled of alcohol.

“The counsellor is a priest and he doesn’t drink,” Lutchman said.

Tongo also did not accept counselling.

Anni’s body was found in the minibus shortly before 7am on Sunday, November 14, 2010.

Lutchman said Dewani’s brother Preyen told him he would break the news to his brother on the phone after friends and family arrived at the hotel.

Two surveillance video clips of that morning in the hotel were shown in court. One shows Dewani receiving the phone call and entering a boardroom with his friends and family. In the other, Dewani is led into his bedroom.

Lutchman said the widower sat on his bed and cried with his loved ones around him.

His testimony would resume on Thursday.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term. Middleman Monde Mbolombo, a hotel receptionist, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices.

Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18. Mziwamadoda Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

Sapa