GLYNNIS UNDERHILL | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Nov 26 2010 08:26
British tourist Shrien Dewani is now a suspect in the police investigation of the murder of his Swedish wife, Anni Dewani, in Cape Town, two highly reliable sources close to the investigation have told the Mail & Guardian.
Negotiations are taking place to persuade Dewani to return voluntarily. If he returns, he will be charged and arrested, the source said. If he doesn’t, the National Prosecuting Authority will have to extradite him from Britain.
The 30-year-old chartered accountant flew out of Cape Town four days after his wife’s body was found in Khayelitsha with a single bullet wound to the head.
The couple had just arrived on honeymoon when Dewani claimed their taxi was hijacked by two armed men after they took a late-night detour through Gugulethu two weeks ago.
The focus of the investigation shifted back to Dewani after three men were swiftly arrested by police and charged with the murder of the 28-year-old engineer and part-time model.
The taxi driver, 31-year-old Zola Tongo, who drove the newlyweds on the night of the murder, is currently negotiating a plea bargain with the state. The other two accused, 23-year-old Xolile Mngeni and 26-year-old Mzwamadoda Qwabe, have also given police their version of events.
This week Dewani appointed top South African divorce and criminal lawyer Billy Gundelfinger to keep a "watching brief". Asked whether he knew his client was a suspect in the murder investigation, Gundelfinger declined to comment.
In Britain Dewani also appointed public relations guru Max Clifford, who has created a media frenzy around his client. The British Daily Mail reported family sources this week saying that Dewani believed the South African police wanted to pin the murder of his wife on him.
The M&G sent questions to Clifford’s office this week asking for Dewani’s response to the unsubstantiated allegations that he might have been involved in his wife’s murder. Clifford’s office then issued a press statement written by his brother and business partner, Preyen Dewani, Both families wanted to see justice done, his brother wrote, and it was a difficult time for everyone.
"At this stage Shrien has not been asked to go back to South Africa. As you can imagine, he has been severely traumatised by the country and the specific threats that he too may be a target in the South African press.
"He is currently receiving medical assistance to help deal with the trauma. The family are in constant contact with the police and are fully cooperating with their investigation."
Shrien had to deal with the loss of his chosen life partner on their honeymoon, his brother wrote, and the horrific ordeal of being held up and terrorised at gunpoint.
"He is fully aware of the false accusations and the possibility that by attaching blame to him the people may divert this matter away from concern over the security of South Africa," wrote Preyen.
His brother said the couple had planned their future together and had so much to look forward to.
Meanwhile, the expected identity parade of the three men who have already appeared in court in connection with the murder did not take place this week.
Although he remained tight-lipped, journalists mobbed Rodney De Kock, the Western Cape director of public prosecutions, after the second appearance of Mngeni in court on Thursday. Topping their questions was how long it would take to extradite a person from Britain.