Saturday, March 24, 2012

#Dewani: #Panorama to air CCTV tape that Dewani brother attempted to seize

The brother of Shrien Dewani, the British man accused of paying for his wife to be murdered on honey-moon, attempted to obtain potentially incriminating CCTV footage, leaked police documents claim.

Shrien Dewani is accused by South African police of arranging the contract killing of wife Anni in November last year. She was shot after the apparent hijacking of their taxi in a township in Cape Town.

Preyen Dewani is said to have asked the security manager of the Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town, to hand over footage of Shrien talking to Zola Tongo, the couple’s taxi driver. Tongo, 31, is serving 18 years after confessing to organising the killing, in which he claims Shrien is implicated. 

Killed: Ann Dewani with husband Shrien the day they married

Killed: Ann Dewani with husband Shrien the day they married

The alleged request for the footage was rejected because the manager had been summoned by prosecutors as a possible witness. The claim is made in a police dossier obtained by The Mail on Sunday and forms part of an application by South African authorities to have Shrien extradited from the UK to stand trial.

In the dossier, police captain Paul Hendrikse says Preyen asked for the footage soon after Shrien returned to Britain following Anni’s death. ‘I am concerned there may have been an attempt to interfere with the investigation,’ the officer says.

Preyen, 32, is a director of the Bristol-based care-home company run by Shrien. According to the police dossier, the footage shows Shrien staying in the cab that drove him and Anni from the airport the day before the killing and talking to Tongo for four minutes while Anni, 28, booked into the hotel.

Captain Hendrikse says mobile-phone records prove the two men had another conversation that night. Shrien’s lawyers insist he is innocent and that Tongo tried to incriminate him to get a reduced sentence.

Denial: Shrien Dewani insists that he had nothing to do with his wife's death

Denial: Shrien Dewani insists that he had nothing to do with his wife's death

The dossier claims Tongo returned to the hotel two days after the body was found and was handed a white plastic packet of money by Shrien, allegedly in payment for carrying out the killing. Mr Dewani claims he was paying for a taxi fare.

Shrien, 31, of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, has repeatedly denied being involved in Anni’s death. His extradition hearing is set to begin on May 3. If sent to South Africa, he will be tried alongside alleged hitmen Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, and Xolile Mngeni, 23, who are said to have confessed to their part in the killing.

Last month, magistrates in London released Shrien on £250,000 bail. A spokesman for Preyen said the hotel was asked to retain CCTV footage ‘under lawyer’s instructions’, adding that a High Court judge confirmed during Shrien’s extradition hearing that ‘this was not an attempt to interfere with the investigation’.

Solicitor Charlotte Harris, who acts for the Dewani family, said: ‘At all times my clients have sought to assist the police with their investigation.’

A friend of the Dewanis said: ‘This is another desperate attempt by South African police to smear the family instead of finding the real killers.’