My guilt, by husband of bride in carjack murder: The robber put a gun in my ear, his finger on the trigger. We're not going to hurt Anni, he lied...By Dan Newling
Last updated at 2:46 PM on 18th November 2010
- Anni Dewani shot at least three times in the chest
Speaking publicly for the first time, Shrien Dewani told the Mail how he pleaded with their kidnappers not to separate him from his wife, Anni, 28.
But he said they put a gun in his ear and pushed him out of the moving taxi. As he sprawled by the roadside in a Cape Town slum, they drove her into the night.
Just hours later her body was found inside the abandoned taxi. She had been shot at least three times in the chest, and a post-mortem examination could confirm fears she was also sexually assaulted.
Scroll down for video report
Anni Dewani was abducted and shot dead on her honeymoon in South Africa
Tragic: Smiling Anni (right) and Shrien Dewani pictured on their wedding day less than two weeks ago. Anni died after their taxi was hijacked in South Africa
Yesterday, 30-year-old Mr Dewani told how he felt powerless at being unable to save his wife, whom he had married just weeks earlier.
‘Of course I have an enormous amount of guilt about the whole episode,’ he said. ‘However, having gone through events over and over again in my mind, it is difficult to see how we could have done things differently.’
The couple had arrived in the country last week and spent an ‘idyllic’ four days on safari in the Kruger National Park.
On Friday they moved to Cape Town and after spending Saturday lounging by their hotel pool, decided to head out.
At Cape Town’s five-star Cape Grace Hotel where the couple had been staying, Mr Dewani said: ‘We spent an a hour-and-a-half driving around the city. At around 9pm, we headed to Somerset West (a suburb 30 miles away).
Newlywed: Anni, 28, was on the second night of her honeymoon when the killers struck
Together: The couple in a picture posted on a Facebook tribute page
‘It was a beautiful evening and we walked along the beach and ate at a place right on the seafront. We had been planning on just coming back to the city centre and having a drink in the Waterfront area.’
But then they decided to leave the safer tourist areas and have a look at a township in the city.
‘Anni grew up in Sweden, and she felt as if the area around this hotel was just like at home: so clean and safe, and maybe a bit sterile. She had never been to Africa before, so she suggested that we should have a look at the “real Africa”.
‘The stop was on the way back here and was intended so that we could experience a township. We were barely in the Gugulethu township when the attack happened.
‘We had just turned off the junction and were stopped at a set of traffic lights. It was two African male gunmen.
‘They were banging their guns on the windows. One of them was using his gun to smash the driver’s window. Until this happened we had been completely oblivious. We were sitting in the back of the cab going through all the pictures of our safari.
Carjacking: The car in which the Anni was found murdered
Evidence: Blood beneath a door on the car will be examined by forensic experts
Mr Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym, near Bristol, who owns a series of care homes, told how the attackers forced the taxi driver out of the cab and took off at speed with the couple in the back.
He said that he and his wife, who had married in India, were together for 20 minutes as it hurtled around the township’s dark streets and the two men took their valuables.
‘The men kept on saying, “We are not going to hurt you. We just want the car.” That was a lie. Most of the conversation in the car was us pleading for us to be dumped together. I held on to Anni as I said to them, “Look, if you’re not going to hurt her why don’t you let us go?”.’
Soon the gunmen threw him out of the hijacked taxi’s window.
‘Just before they dumped me, they insisted to me that they were going to dump her a few minutes later in a different place. They just said they didn’t want to dump us together. I resisted, but they eventually forced me out the back of the passenger window. I landed on a patch of sand, landing first on my shoulder and then forehead. It was in the middle of the township.
Crime scene: Shrien and Anni's stolen vehicle was found in Lingelethu West, Khayelitsha in Cape Town
Poverty: Shacks in Khayelitsha township, where Anni was killed
Recommendation: Jamie Oliver at Mzoli's restaurant near Cape Town
By about 1am on Sunday, the police response had ‘ratcheted up several gears’, he added. ‘It was around 10.30am on Sunday when they found Anni’s body dumped in the back of the taxi in another township, miles from where we were picked up.’
Mrs Dewani had recently graduated from a product design course at university in Sweden. She was to move to London after their honeymoon, a prospect which Mr Dewani said ‘absolutely thrilled her’.
Recalling his wife, he said: ‘She loved people and she loved life and she was always, always happy.’
At home in Sweden, her father Vinod Hindocia described his daughter as ‘the most beautiful woman you can imagine’.
Family members have travelled to Cape Town to support Mr Dewani, who said he was initially suspicious the taxi driver may have tipped off the robbers. ‘We couldn’t understand how they knew about us. Initially I had a lot of suspicion about the driver. But he spent all of Sunday helping the police and was able to answer all the police’s questions. By the end, I quite liked him.’
‘I don’t know if you believe in fate, but prior to last Saturday we had spoken to literally no one while we were on honeymoon. However, on the afternoon of the attack, Anni suggested that we should talk to our families. We phoned them all: our parents, grandparents and aunts and told them what a wonderful time we were having.’
The South African Police Service insisted it would leave ‘no stone unturned’ in its search for the attackers. Mr Dewani said police had two suspects in mind. But by last night, no one had been arrested.
Location: The Dewanis were attacked as they drove through Cape Town
Danger on the wild side of Cape Town
Risky: A shebeen near Cape Town
Organised excursions known as ‘township tours’ allow them to see how the poor – mainly black and mixed race people – eke out a living in the shacklands.
However, levels of violent crime are terrifyingly high, with carjacking, rape and murder being everyday events.
An organised daytime tour with some element of security may be relatively safe. A taxi ride into such unknown territory late at night is extremely risky.
While the Dewanis never got a chance to visit it, Mzoli’s Meat restaurant in the heart of the township in which they were hijacked was last year recommended by Jamie Oliver, who described the barbecue food as ‘heaven’ and ‘totally sexy’.
Many of the township tour operators end their trips with a visit to one of the informal drinking dens, called shebeens. Raucous and usually great fun, they stay open until the early hours.
Yesterday a spokesman for Zipping Zebra Tours said the murder was ‘just shocking’, particularly as her company has had ‘no incidents’ in the 16 years it has been operating.
But Alvin Kushner, chairman of the Tour Operators’ Association of Cape Town, warned: ‘People should always travel with tour guides. A guide wouldn’t have gone at that time of night.’