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BRITISH businessman Shrien Dewani arranged his wife’s murder during their honeymoon in South Africa after confessing he needed to “find a way out of” his marriage.
The South African authorities are seeking to extradite Dewani over the killing of his Swedish bride Anni, who was shot dead in the back of a taxi in Cape Town in November.
An unnamed witness prepared to give evidence if Dewani stands trial claims the wealthy care home owner revealed to him his true feelings about his marriage more than six months earlier, the court heard.
Hugo Keith, representing the South African authorities, said: “Dewani told (the witness) in April 2010 how he was engaged and had to get married.
“He said although she was a nice, lovely girl who he liked, he could not break out of the engagement because he would be disowned by his family. He went on to say to the witness he needed to find a way out of it.”
Dewani, 31, is accused of arranging for Anni, 28, to be killed in a staged car-jacking in the dangerous Gugulethu township.
He is also wanted for offences of kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances, conspiracy to commit murder, and obstructing the administration of justice, Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London heard on the first day of his extradition hearing.
As Keith opened his case, Dewani sat slumped in the dock, mumbling to himself.
The court was packed with more than 30 members of his and his late wife’s families.
Dewani became a suspect in the killing after cab driver Zola Tongo pointed the finger at him. Tongo, who was appointed the couple’s tour guide when they arrived in Cape Town on November 12, admitted his own involvement in the hijacking and claimed Dewani offered him cash to arrange it.
Keith said the newlyweds touched down in the city after spending the first three days of their honeymoon at Kruger National Park.
Tongo drove the couple to the Cape Grace hotel where they were staying and, he claims, Dewani then asked him if he knew anyone who could “have a client of his taken off the scene”.
“After some discussion, Tongo understood that Dewani wanted to have a woman killed,” Keith said. “Dewani indicated he would be prepared to pay 15,000 rand (€1,525).”
The Bristol businessman offered to pay for the contract killing in US dollars and the next day he took Tongo to a place where he could change the currency into South African rand, the taxi driver alleged.
“During their discussions it was agreed the killing would be designed to look like a random hijacking, that Tongo and Dewani would be ejected from the car unharmed,” Keith went on.
“The kidnap and robbery were designed to make it look like a random attack.”
In his plea agreement, Tongo explained that he had discussed Dewani’s proposal with hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo and he was put in touch with a man called Mziwamadoda Qwabe, the court was told.
A plan was hatched and a third man, Xolile Mngeni, was also brought on board, Tongo stated.
It was agreed that Tongo would drive the couple to the township, where the other two would be waiting to hijack his vehicle, Keith said. The alleged plan was executed, with Mngeni and Qwabe stopping the cab, pulling out their firearms and getting into the car.
The Dewanis were ordered to lie down on the back seat and after a short distance Tongo and then Dewani were ejected.
“Qwabe drove on and the victim was shot dead, as was agreed,” Keith said.
Police were satisfied that the evidence the cabbie gave was “consistent with the evidence at their disposal,” Keith said.
The hearing continues.
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