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Monday, July 18, 2011

Murder of Anni Dewani

Anni Dewani, March 12 1982, was a Swedish-born ethnic Indian Hindu woman, who while on her honeymoon in South Africa, was kidnapped and then murdered whilst taking a taxi on a slum tourism trip through Gugulethu township near Cape Town on 13 November 2010. Taxi driver Zola Robert Tongo later admitted guilt on the charges of murder in a plea bargain, and was sentenced on 7 December 2010, to 18 years in jail. Two further defendants, Xolile Mnguni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.
In his admission of guilt statement, Tongo alleged that Dewani's husband, British national Shrien Dewani of Bristol, had offered him a sum of 15000 rand to murder his wife. South African authorities are currently trying to extradite Shrien back to South Africa via the British legal system, while Shrien Dewani continues to claim innocence within the kidnap and murder plot. Shrien Dewani's family described the allegations of Tongo as "totally ludicrous."

Background,Anni Dewani
The Hindocha family, Hindus living in Uganda, were forced to leave the country in the early 1970s after ruler Idi Amin expelled them. Granted residence in Sweden, they settled in Mariestad, where their daughter Anni was born and raised. After training as an engineer, she joined Ericsson. After collecting Anni's ashes from a London-based undertaker in the first week of March 2011, the Hindocha family will scatter them in her favourite area of the Vänern lake.

Shrien Dewani
Shrien Dewani was born in Bristol, and raised at the family home in Westbury-on-Trym. Educated at Bristol Grammar School and the University of Manchester, he qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte, working in the City of London. In 2005 he resigned his position, to help found and run his families chain of PSP Healthcare old peoples homes.

Marriage
Anni Hindocha visited her cousin Sneha in Luton, Bedfordshire, England in 2009, and met Shrien Dewani through mutual friends. Their first formal date was to watch The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End, and they then alternated their weekend meetings between Bristol and Stockholm. After gaining permission from her family, Shrien proposed to Anni at the Hôtel Ritz, Paris, in June 2010, with a £25,000 diamond engagement ring balanced on a red rose. Shortly afterwards, Anni moved to Bristol to help her fiancé run his families care home business. Under her maiden name, in 2010 Anni entered Bristol's Top Model competition.The couple married at the Lake Pavani resort outside Mumbai, India, on 29 October.200 guests attended the traditional three day Hindu marriage event. In 2011 they were planning a civil ceremony in the UK, for friends who could not attend the Indian ceremony.

Murder

After landing at Cape Town International Airport on 7 November, the couple took an internal flight, and stayed for four nights at the Kruger National Park. On 12 November, the couple returned to Cape Town International Airport, and were then driven by Zola Tongo to the five-star Cape Grace hotel.
Shrien then commented to the South African Police Service and the press, that his wife had wanted to see the real Africa. They decided to traveled to Mzoli's BBQ restaurant, as recommended by chef Jamie Oliver in his magazine that year. Located in the Gugulethu township, the couple arranged to be driven there by Tongo in his VW Sharan taxi.
But after dining at a restaurant in Strand, and while being driven around the township while undertaking slum tourism, Shrien stated that the taxi had been hijacked by two armed men, who removed Tongo.Now held at gunpoint, the couple were driven around the township, being told by the kidnappers: "We are not going to hurt you. We just want the car."[9] After 20 minutes, at a distance of 11 miles (18 km) from the original hijacking, after being threatened at gunpoint Shrien was thrown out of the back window of the moving taxi.
After Shrien flagged down a passing car and contacted the police, a police helicopter spotted the Sharan taxi abandoned 2 miles (3.2 km) away in the township of Khayelitsha. At 07:50 on the morning of 14 November, Anni Dewani was found dead inside the back of the VW Sharan in Lingelethu West.Severely beaten and brusied, she had suffered a single gunshot wound to her neck. Police later confirmed that Anni's Giorgio Armani wristwatch, a white-gold and diamond bracelet, her handbag and her BlackBerry mobile phone were missing assumed stolen.

Investigation
Anni Dewani's body was taken to Cape Town hospital. Subject to a post mortem, the examination found that she had died from a single gunshot wound to the neck, which had severed an artery, but that she was not sexually assaulted. During this period, after being joined by members of his family, Shrien gave interviews to both the police and the press, where he commented that it was his wife's idea to visit the township and see the "real Africa". On the 17 November, Anni Dewani's body was released by the South African authorities, and returned to the United Kingdom on a British Airways flight, accompanied by her husband. She was cremated in London in a traditional Hindu ceremony on the 21st November. Her ashes were scattered into a lake close to her home town of Mariestad in Sweden.
The high-profile case was given to the Police Hawks investigation unit, led by Captain Paul Hendrikse. On 17 November, the South African police arrested Xolile Mnguni followed two days later by the arrest of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and taxi driver Zola Tongo. All three were charged on 20 November with: aggravated robbery; kidnapping; and the murder of Anni Dewani. On the same day, police begin briefing local South African media that the shooting was a "planned hit," after they had arrested a fourth man, who had acted as an intermediary between Tongo and the two kidnappers. They also asked Shrien to return to South Africa, to attend an identity parade.
The driver, not his wife, suggested the visit to the township
He and his wife were held in the car for 40 minutes, not 20, before he was thrown out
Ashok Hindocha, Anni's uncle and a spokesman for the Hindocha family, voiced his concerns about the investigation, asking South African police to investigate the murder further. He then challenged Shrien to return to South Africa, commenting that South African police should not rule anyone out of the investigation.
On 25 November, Shrien's brother Preyen Dewani issued a statement saying that his brother was afraid that he would be wrongly blamed for the murder in order to save the reputation of South Africa, to protect tourism revenues. Max Clifford later commented that Shrien was heavily sedated and being watched by doctors, was not a suspect in the murder, and had not been asked to return to South Africa. South African prosecutors later confirmed to local press that Shrien was not presently a suspect.
On 19 February 2011, the Sunday Telegraph revealed evidence uncovered by Shrien's investigation team, that had found a new witness to the murder. Not yet interviewed by the police, the female student who lived less than 100 feet (30 m) from the location of where the VW Sharan taxi was found, stated that she noted at 08:00 that Anni Dewani's underwear was below her knees and her dress pulled up. Further, the post-mortem report stated that there a number of dark bruises on Anni's legs, consistent with "finger mark" grips. Consistent with evidence from previous official reports of the positions of her hands, the article concluded that a possible outcome was that Anni was shot whilst trying to defend herself against a rape attack.

Extradition of Shrien Dewani
After he had surrendered himself at a Bristol police station, Shrien was arrested at 22.38 on the 8 December 2010, by police officers from the Metropolitan Police's extradition unit. They were acting under a provisional arrest warrant issued that day after being provided by evidence from the South African authorities via the High Commission in London, issued on "suspicion of conspiring with others to murder Mrs Anni Dewani on 13 November.
South Africa’s Congress of Trade Unions issued a statement: “Let us hope that the swift and efficient way in which this case has been dealt with, and the fact that it is now becoming clear that it was planned by a non-South African, will help to restore the country’s reputation.” Friends of Shrien suggested that he was being “stitched up” as a suspect, claiming that the South African authorities were trying to make the murder more complex than a tourist hijacking. Max Clifford on behalf of Shrien and the Dewani family commented: “Let the South African police contact Shrien to explain and also reveal what evidence there is to substantiate these accusations from a man who had admitted his part in a murder.
On the morning of 9 December, Shrien's British lawyer Clare Montgomery commented that "Shrien Dewani had no involvement in the death of his wife Anni.Appearing that afternoon at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, Shrien told the court that he did not consent to being extradited. Ben Watson, the British lawyer representing the South African government, disclosed that Shrien had withdrawn £1,000 in cash on his Mastercard before the murder, including £800 on the evening of 13 November. Watson further alleged that Shrien claimed in conversation with the kidnappers that he had undertaken a contract killing before in South Africa, but Shrien's lawyer Montgomery denied he had ever been to South Africa before the honeymoon. The court was subsequently shown a copy of his passport, issued in 2006, confirming that Shrien had not been there in that time. Shrien was then granted bail, posted at £250,000, lodged by his family. However, the Crown Prosecution Service acting on behalf of the South African authorities lodged an appeal, which meant that Shrien spent the night of 9 December in Wandsworth Prison.
On the afternoon of 10 December, at a hearing at the High Court, Watson told Mr Justice Ouseley that CCTV footage from the Cape Grace hotel showed Shrien:
Meeting Tongo twice in his taxi in the carpark of the Cape Grace on 12 December, the night before the killing, when Tongo claims Shrien asked him to hire a hitmen to kill a woman. In later extradition papers submitted to the British courts, South African Police claimed that Preyan Dewani tried to obtain the video footage of the pair meeting.
Having a series of meetings with Tongo inside the hotel, without his Anni, in the 24 hours before the killing.
Handing Tongo a package of cash on 16 November, three days after the murder, having just previously been sitting beside his grieving father-in-law, Vinod Hindoach. Tongo is then seen entering the hotel toilets, where he counted the money.


The extradition hearing
South Africa falls into the category 2 countries under the Extradition Act 2003. The extradition proceedings against Shrien Dewani will therefore have to be carried out subject to the procedure set out in the Extradition Act 2003. Following the initial stages of the extradition process (service of documents, identity checks, etc.) the court will have to decide whether there is evidence which would be sufficient to make a case requiring an answer by the person if the proceedings were the summary trial of an information against him. The mere suspicion, reasonably justified, by the South African prosecuting authorities would be sufficient.
Provided the South African prosecution authorities are able to show that they have "reasonable suspicions" that an extradition offence was committed, the grounds for refusing extradition are limited to: physical and mental conditions (which would render it "unjust and oberly oppressive" to extradite the person), human rights, the person being charged with or serving an offence in the United Kingdom or a competing extradition claim.
A full extradition hearing was scheduled for 3/4/5 May 2011.

Media coverage
In South Africa, media coverage in the case was high from the discovery of the body. With an economy reliant on the influx of tourists, tour operators reported an immediate drop in bookings, as potential visitors were made aware of the country's high murder rate: on average, 46 per day. Secondly, concern was expressed at many levels that the killing would negate the goodwill resulting from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.The assignment of the Police Hawks team and the early arrests, conviction and statement implicating Shrien Dewani only added further fuel to media coverage. Local media debate surrounds the following angles:
How the character of Anni Dewani affected the view of Shrien towards his wife.
If Shrien is guilty, whether the case is a transnational version of American murders in which white people drive to black neighbourhoods to commit crimes?
Racism within the British media, assuming that the South African police were incompetent. Alleged police torture also was not seen as helping the international standing of the South Africa justice system.
The level of crime in the townships, reviving the debate which Hungarian scholar Anna Selmeczi called the "social abandonment of the poor." There had been 700 murders in the past five years in Gugulethu.

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