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THE families of Shrien Dewani and his slain wife, Anni Hindocha, have set up online petitions asking for public support in calling on the UK Home Secretary to either grant or deny the South African government’s request to have Dewani extradited.
Theresa May is expected to decide on the extradition order within the next month, but neither family is leaving anything to chance.
District Court Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle, who found that Dewani should be extradited to South Africa on August 10 referred the case to May for a final decision. She has until October 10 – two months from when the chief magistrate ruled – to decide whether or not to order his extradition.
Anni was shot and killed in an alleged staged hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, 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.
The British businessman faces charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
By late yesterday, Anni’s petition on the website, gopetition.com had 9 171 signatories while Dewani’s petition on the HM Government website had garnered 54 signatures.
According to the UK Home Office, anybody is entitled to submit the petitions to the Secretary of State for consideration.
The Hindocha petition says it is officially endorsed by Anni’s family.
Dewani’s petition was created by a 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 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 citizens and their human rights and that this consideration should override any extradition request,” the petition states.
A UK Home Office spokesman said yesterday that the Home Secretary may only consider three issues when deciding on whether to grant a person extradition:
* Whether the person is at risk of the death penalty.
* Whether specialty arrangements are in place. (These ensure that an extradited person may only be proceeded against in respect of the conduct for which extradition was ordered.)
* Whether the person concerned has previously been extradited from another country to the UK and the consent of that country to his further and onward extradition from the UK is required.
Legal observers say it is unlikely that May will reverse a recommendation by the courts.
Dewani has the option to appeal against the extradition order.
Ashok Hindocha, Anni’s uncle, said the family were anxiously waiting for May’s decision.
“We worry a lot but we are confident that the extradition will be signed. We see no reason why she would not,” Hindocha said.
He said they were pleased by the response the petition had generated.
“We started the petition quite early because we are not British citizens and we needed 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 hope for the best. We just hope this case can be concluded so we can move on with our lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, the lawyer heading up Dewani’s South African legal team, Taswell Papier, of the law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenberg, said he did not want to comment on whether or not Dewani would appeal against the extradition.
“I am representing him in South Africa, but there is a UK team that will make a decision on that,” Papier said.