South African police chief calls husband of murdered bride ‘a monkey’ who thought he could get away with killing his wife there.
* Claim businessman ‘left envelope of cash in a taxi to pay for wife’s murder’
* Anni Dewani’s father speaks of pain of hearing details of daughter’s death
* Sister of victim describes Shrien as ‘caring’ and ‘protective’ of bride
South Africa’s top police officer was at the centre of a bizarre race row today after labelling the businessman accused of plotting the killing of his wife a ‘monkey’.
National police commissioner Bheki Cele made the comments while criticising Shrien Dewani for supposedly paying for his wife Anni to be killed in the crime-ridden nation.
Speaking in Limpopo province, the South African media reported him as saying: ‘One monkey came from London to kill his wife here.
‘He thought we South Africans were stupid. Don’t kill people here.’
A few days after the killing on November 13, Mr Cele said Dewani were not suspects. His comments came as it was claimed the millionaire left an envelope of cash to pay for the hit in a taxi.
The claim was made in Cape Town by the taxi driver who alleges he was hired by Dewani to organise his bride’s death.
Zola Tongo claims he and Mr Dewani agreed an ambush point in the dangerous township of Guguletu and that he later sent the businessman a text message reminding him about the fee.
Tongo alleges he received a reply from the 30-year-old as he sat in the back seat of the cab which stated the money was ‘in an envelope in a pouch behind the passenger seat’.
If this was proved by phone records, it would be the only solid evidence to emerge in the mysterious case.
City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that Mr Dewani withdrew £800 from a Cape Town cashpoint on the eve of his wife’s murder last month.
Together with £200 he withdrew a few days earlier, it added up to 10,000 rand (£1,000) used to ‘pay for the assassination of his wife’, the court was told.
There were also allegations that Mr Dewani was seen on CCTV paying cash to the cabbie in a hotel ‘days after Anni’s body was found’.
Brigadier Sally de Beer of the South African Police Service said she could not comment on the claim, adding: ‘Whatever evidence we have will be produced in court.’
The 30-year-old bridegroom faces extradition to South Africa after being charged with conspiracy to murder his wife Anni on November 13 just two weeks after the couple married.
Tongo has also accused Mr Dewani of trying to orchestrate a similar hit on a previous visit to South Africa, the hearing yesterday was told.
He was convinced the businessman had earlier ‘arranged for someone to be killed in a fake hijacking’, the court heard.
Mr Dewani, a care home owner from Bristol, will appear before the High Court – possibly today – where a more senior judge will decide if he can be granted bail.
His wife, 28, was shot dead after two gunmen ambushed the couple’s cab as they were driven through an impoverished township to see the ‘real Africa’.
The killers were allegedly organised by Tongo. Both he and Mr Dewani were released unharmed in the attack.
As part of a plea bargain, the driver later told police he had arranged the killing at Mr Dewani’s instigation.
The businessman was granted bail yesterday on condition his family provide a £250,000 surety and he is electronically tagged.
But the decision was over-ridden before he could walk free after representatives of the South African government lodged an appeal.
Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said: ‘Either Mr Dewani over a period of time plotted the murder of his wife or he is one of the tragic victims of this incident.
‘It is clear there is evidence that has been put before me and on the face of it, and I put it no higher than that, evidence on which a trial could evidently proceed.’
But he added there was ‘a real possibility the defendant would be acquitted in due course’.
Newly-weds: Anni Dewani was shot dead in a car jacking in South Africa. Right, with new husband Shrien
Meanwhile the father of Anni Dewani said today that not knowing why his daughter was killed was ‘torture every day’.
Vinod Hindocha who travelled from his home in Sweden to attend Tuesday’s explosive trial in Cape Town, said her siblings were also suffering from the ordeal and her mother was ‘traumatised’.
Mr Hindocha revealed that a day after the court hearing, he was driven through Guguletu township where the couple were supposedly hijacked and then to Khayelitsha where his daughter was found dead eight hours later with a single gun shot to the neck.
He told today’s Cape Times newspaper that he found the court hearing where he was jostled by a large media contingent ‘very painful’.
‘We were lightly briefed on what was going to happen in court. But it was still shocking to us when it came out. I was sitting in a courtroom hearing how my daughter’s murder was planned.’
Commenting on Shrien’s alleged complicity in the murder, he said: ‘Shrien says he is not guilty and that he would like to explain himself. I think that would be very nice.
‘At the end of the day it’s really not about what you or I think. It’s about what the court thinks. I am waiting to hear what the court thinks.’
He added: ‘On the one hand many of our questions have been answered and that’s given us relief. But on the other hand we now sit with this one question.
‘All I know is Anni was murdered but I don’t know why. I have absolutely no idea. I want to know why. This is a torture to me every day.’
He said he was pleased with Tongo’s sentence of 18 years, but it had not brought much relief to his family back in Sweden. He also said he would return to Cape Townfor any future trials.
‘It seemed like he (Tongo) was crying and had some emotion. But I can’t feel differently about him. Nobody can ever forgive a criminal.’
His daughter, Anni’s sister, Ami today described Shrien as ‘very caring’ and ‘protective’ of his wife.
Ami Denborg said: ‘He has enormous charm. He was a really nice guy and liked to joke around a lot.’
She said the couple met about 16 months ago during one of Anni’s visits to see friends and family in Luton.
‘At first it was on and off, then Anni decided to go for it,’ she told the Times. ‘She was in love. She was really excited. She used to say she got butterflies in the stomach when he called. They laughed together a lot. I think that was what Anni first liked about him.’
Ms Denborg refused to say how she feels about Mr Dewani now, saying only that if he was guilty, ‘then what he has done is unforgivable. You can’t just kill somebody. It is scary. What the hell was he thinking?’
‘My other daughter and son are the reasons I came here. They are suffering. Anni’s mother is in Sweden and is so, so traumatised.
‘We’ve been through tough times since Anni’s death. It’s very hard to find out exactly what’s going on from afar,’ he said.
Outside court on Tuesday, he thanked wellwishers and expressed confidence in the South African Police Service – which he repeated to the newspaper.
‘I’m very impressed by South Africa and the South African police force. I met the detectives in the investigation and am confident in them.’
He said although he didn’t know Shrien well, he and Anni seemed happy on their wedding day on October 29, two weeks before she was killed in a Cape Town township.
He told the newspaper: ‘He and Anni were a normal, happy couple. I only met him once or twice before the marriage. Anni was taking care of everything. I met (Shrien) again at the hotel for their wedding.
‘I was happy that she was happy,’ he added, reportedly fighting back tears.
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