Clutching a cherished photo of his smiling daughter, Anni Dewani’s father issues an invitation to the man accused of murdering her.
Grief-stricken Vinod Hindocha said “sadness was in everybody’s eyes” as the family came together last night for New Year without Anni, 28, who was killed on honeymoon in South Africa.
And he revealed yesterday how he has still not spoken to Anni’s 30-year-old husband Shrien Dewani or any of his family since the millionaire businessman was implicated in her murder.
Mr Hindocha said of his son-in law: “I would hold his hand and go to South Africa with him if he said he was willing but I haven’t heard anything from his family since December 4.”
That was the day taxi driver Zola Tongo dramatically accused the care home boss in court of masterminding the murder of his new bride.
Mr Hindocha, speaking at his home in Mariestad, Sweden, went on: “I have not spoken to the Dewanis since Tongo implicated him in court and they have not called me since then. We have had absolutely no contact whatsoever.
“I don’t know why that is. I mean, if I was told my son could be the killer I would say, ‘Go to South Africa and tell them that you didn’t do it’.
“If he didn’t do it, what is he afraid of? If he loved her so much as he says he did then he should go back to South Africa and identify her killers.”
Mr Hindocha, 61, was last night preparing to see in the New Year at home with his wife Nilan, 59, as well as brother Ashok, 50, daughter Ami Denborg, 33 and granddaughter Alicia, three.
He said: “Anni would always come home from wherever she was at this time of year so now, especially, every move we make reminds us of her.
“She was always the first at organising games, she got everyone going and organised lovely presents at Christmas. Things are not the same as they were and never will be.
“Looking around at my family I see the sadness in all of their eyes. Nobody is his or herself.
“It’s the tension and sadness of losing her that we just cannot forget. Every move we make we think, ‘Anni would have done this or that.’ It’s just unbearable. I loved her so much.”
Back in Britain, Dewani was last night at home in Westbury-on-Trym, near Bristol, where he must spend every night as part of a £250,000 bail agreement ahead of his extradition hearing later this month.
The businessman returned to Britain a few days after his wife was shot dead when their taxi was ambushed in a township outside Cape Town on November 13.
Zola Tongo, 31, was jailed for a reduced sentence of 18 years after admitting organising the murder but claiming that Mr Dewani asked him to arrange the two “assassins”.
Three days after the killing, Mr Dewani had a meeting with his grieving father-in-law in South Africa.
At one point, he is said to have broken off to “surreptitiously” hand a packet of cash to Tongo.
The money exchange was captured on CCTV and Mr Hindocha has signed an affidavit confirming that his son-in-law then left after receiving a phone call.
Asked why Dewani would want to kill his daughter, Mr Hindocha pauses.
“If I knew that…” he tails off before continuing: “I need justice and I believe I will get justice, I truly hope so. I don’t say he did it or he didn’t do it – not until he’s proven guilty and the evidence is there.
“I would say to my son-in-law, ‘Go to South Africa and tell them that you didn’t do it’. If he didn’t do it what is he afraid of?
“He is definitely going to get a fair trial out there because this case has got such a high profile. The whole world is watching.
“If he loved his wife so much as he says he did he should point out the assailants and say he’s innocent.
“I would tell him to go. If he’s forced to go it will be worse. He should go, that’s what I believe.”
Mr Hindocha, an electrical engineer, said he has nothing but confidence in the South African police investigating his daughter’s murder.
And he confirmed that he will be returning to Cape Town in February for the trial of Anni’s alleged kidnappers Xolile Mngeni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25.
He said: “I have recently returned from Cape Town and was very, very happy with the South African investigators.
“I feel faith in them. They do tell me if there’s anything new. They are very confident in what they are doing.”
Dewani’s spokesman Max Clifford said that his client was last night still mourning the loss of his wife and still has no plans to return voluntarily to South Africa.
He said: “He’s heartbroken and is going through the whole grieving process.
“He’s in a dreadful, dreadful state. He desperately wishes he had never gone to South Africa on his honeymoon.” He said that the Dewani family simply want “the truth to come out”. Mr Clifford added: “He has co-operated fully with the South African authorities and answered all of their questions.
“What was interesting was the decision by two British High Court judges to give him bail when they heard the evidence. I think that speaks volumes.”
Back in Sweden, Mr Hindocha stares at the picture of his beautiful daughter holding her niece Alicia and contemplates the future she has missed out on.
He said: “All we want is justice to give us some chance at moving on next year. All I ask is that he goes to South Africa and helps to give us that.”