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Cyber battle over Dewani

Cape Argus

LEE RONDGANGER

Staff Reporter

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Shrien Dewani

THE FAMILY of honeymoon murder victim Anni Dewani has gone on an internet offensive to try to get her husband, Shrien Dewani, to stand trial in South Africa, while another petition has called on people to try to stave off his extradition.

The UK Home Secretary is expected to rule on the matter on October 10. The British businessman faces charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Anni’s family, the Hindochas, have set up an online petition asking for the public to support their call for Home Secretary Theresa May to grant the South African government’s request to have Dewani extradited to Cape Town.

On August 10, District Court Judge Howard Riddle, who found that Dewani should be extradited to South Africa, referred the case to May for a final decision. May has until October 10 – two months from the judge’s ruling – to decide whether to order his extradition.

By this morning, Anni’s petition on, gopetition.com had 9 189 signatures while Dewani’s petition on the HM Government website had 54 signatures.

Anni’s petition reads: “Once a UK court decides that Shrien Dewani should be extradited, this petition calls on the UK Home Secretary to grant the South African government’s request for extradition so justice can be served for Anni Hindocha and her accused husband can respond to the evidence against him in a South African Court.”

According to the UK Home Office, anybody is entitled to submit petitions to the Secretary of State for consideration. UK residents can create an e-petition about anything the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100 000 signatures, it can be debated in the House of Commons.

The Hindocha petition says it is officially endorsed by Anni’s family and that it will be delivered to the Home Office by a family member.

Ashok Hindocha, Anni’s uncle, said the family was anxiously waiting for May’s decision.

“We worry a lot but we are confident that the extradition will be signed. We see no reason she would not,” Hindocha said.

He said they were pleased by the response the petition had generated and planned to hand it in to the Home Office within two weeks.

“We started the petition quite early because we are not British citizens and we needed the public support to make a point. Our goal is to have this case concluded. Waiting is hard. We wake up every day and check the papers and the internet to see if anything has changed. We are hoping for the best. We just hope that this case can be concluded so we can move on with our lives,” he said.

Dewani’s petition was created by someone called Gary Peerless and calls for the UK government to “stop all extradition requests to South Africa. South Africa has an appalling record with regard to human rights issues. We believe that no UK citizen should be extradited to South Africa, especially without presenting prima facie evidence.

“Until South Africa is able to uphold its commitment to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and bring an end to the corruption within the SAPS, we ask that no extradition requests are entertained by the UK Government from South Africa. We also request that, in light of the poor human rights record held by South Africa, that special consideration is given to any UK citizen whose extradition may be sought by South Africa, to protect the citizen and their human rights and that this consideration should override any extradition request,” the petition states.

It is unclear whether Peerless is linked to the Dewanis.

A UK Home Office spokesman said yesterday that the Home Secretary many only consider three issues when deciding whether to grant a person’s extradition:

l Whether the person is at risk of the death penalty.

l Whether special arrangements are in place (that ensure an extradited person may only be proceeded against in respect of the conduct for which extradition was ordered).

l Whether the person has previously been extradited from another country to the UK and the consent of that country to his onward extradition from the UK is required.

Dewani can appeal the extradition order.

His wife was killed in an alleged staged hijacking in Gugulethu on November 13.

Dewani was fingered as the mastermind by taxi driver Zola Tongo who was sentenced to 18 years for his part in the crime.

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