‘Bisexual’ honeymoon murder accused relives gun terror

Shrien Dewani appears in the high court in Cape Town,  South Africa
Shrien Dewani appears in the high court in Cape Town, South Africa
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A BRITISH millionaire extradited to South Africa to face trial for murdering his wife on their honeymoon has described the “traumatic” moment they were kidnapped at gunpoint.

In a written witness statement, Shrien Dewani, 34, also admitted being bisexual and said he has suffered “flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety attacks” since the car-jacking which happened as he and new wife Anni took a cab ride through a township on their luxury getaway to Cape Town in November 2010.

The care home owner, from Weston-on-Trym near Bristol, has always denied paying three men to shoot his bride, days after their lavish £200,000 wedding in Mumbai, and entered a formal not-guilty plea today at the start of his trial.

There were gasps at the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town as police footage of his wife’s body was shown.

Dewani appeared to bow his head as forensics officers were seen opening the door of the abandoned taxi the next day, showing a bloodstained Anni dead on the back seat, her long dark hair billowing in the gentle breeze.

As the camera panned to the other side of the car, the court saw blood covering her ankles and feet.

The court heard that a pathology report found gunshot wounds to her left hand and her neck - the latter being the likely cause of death.

The fatal shot was delivered “at close range”, with a suggestion that Mrs Dewani might have been grabbing on to “someone or something” at the time she died, the court heard.

Prosecutors argue that Dewani - who was extradited from the UK to face trial - conspired with locals Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni to kill his wife.

His counsel, Francois van Zyl, said his client, who claims the trauma of the incident has affected his ability to remember things clearly, recalled being in taxi driver Tongo’s cab when it was attacked as they drove off the motorway and towards a township.

Reading from Dewani’s hour-long witness statement, Mr van Zyl said: “The next thing I remember was banging noises coming from the front and right-hand side of the car. There was a lot of shouting in a language I did not understand.

“The next thing I recall is somebody next to me, who told me to lie down. The person had a gun in his hand.

“He was waving the gun in the air.”

Mr van Zyl said the gunman told the defendant to “Look down! Lie down!”

He said: “We were both terrified and immediately complied with his demands. I was lying half on top of Anni. Another person was behind the steering wheel. I do not know where Tongo was at that stage.”

Dewani said he pleaded with the attackers to let him and Anni go, but they demanded Dewani’s phone.

The defendant said: “He searched me and found my phone in my trousers. He got angry. He placed the gun against my left ear and said words to the effect that I should not lie to him or he would shoot me.

“I heard a clicking noise from the gun which scared me even more. I have never been close to a real gun before.”

Dewani’s statement said they returned to the motorway with another driver taking control of the wheel.

He said Anni was screaming, and he was ordered to keep her quiet as they drove on to another side road.

Dewani said: “The driver said that they were not going to hurt us, they just wanted the car and they were going to let us go separately. I begged them to let us go together.”

Dewani said he was ordered to leave the car with a gun to his head.

“The last thing I had said to Anni was to be quiet and not to say anything.”

The defendant said he tried to raise the alarm by knocking on doors in the township, until two police officers were called to the scene and he was taken to a police station.

In the statement Dewani said he was informed the next day that his wife had been found dead.

Tongo, Qwabe and Mngeni are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.

Earlier Dewani denied murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

Wearing a dark suit and with his jet black hair greying, he stood and calmly addressed the court and judge Jeanette Traverso, saying: “I plead not guilty to all five counts, my lady.”

Dewani’s witness statement also said: “My sexual interactions with males were mostly physical experiences or email chats with people I met online or in clubs, including prostitutes.”

He said he had abnormally low levels of hormones, rendering his chances of having children slim, which he discussed with Anni, whom he began dating in summer 2009.

The relationship cooled and at one point ended before they rekindled their romance in March 2010. The couple married later that year in Mumbai and honeymooned in Cape Town.

Members of the victim’s family have travelled from Sweden, where she was raised, to attend the hearing, which is expected to last for around two months.

Before his extradition, and between months of court hearings, Dewani was detained in a hospital in Britain with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is not yet known whether he will be giving evidence in his defence.