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Anni school plan ‘a stunt’

Crime & Courts

Neal Collins

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Anni Dewani. Photo: AP

Ashok Hindocha, uncle of murdered honeymoon bride Anni Dewani, has attacked plans to build a school in her honour as a heartless publicity stunt.

On Thursday, media outlets in Britain were told a school would be built in Anni’s honour with both the Dewanis in Britain and the Hindochas in Sweden involved as well as “anybody who wishes to contribute”.

They claimed £15 000 had been raised, though yesterday morning only £9 158 had been registered on the site http://www.just giving.com/annidewani

Now Ashok says the story, widely reported in England and South Africa last week, is a “PR campaign” organised by celebrity publicist Max Clifford and the Dewani camp before Shrien’s extradition hearing in Bristol on January 20.

Dewani stands accused of paying to have his wife killed after he was released during an infamous carjacking in Gugulethu on November 13.

Clifford claims Dewani has no chance of a fair trial in South Africa if he is forced to return – and is organising a “hearts and minds” campaign to gain public support for his client.

The building of a school in western India, where the Hindochas have their roots, is seen as another chapter in that campaign.

But uncle Ashok insists Anni’s family “were not consulted” over plans to use any funds collected to help build a school.

He told Britain’s Daily Telegraph: “This fund is for both families, we are disappointed nobody told us it was going to be headline news.”

Dewani’s family insist the fund was not a PR stunt. They argue that both families have lent their support but it had only recently been made public news.

The fund website carries a blurb on the front page saying: “In loving memory of our beautiful Anni, we will be donating to a residential Kalyan Ashram School in India, locally known as ‘Ashram-Shalla’ which has approximately 500 students from the tribes around the border of Dang (Gujarat) and Nashik (Maharashtra).”

The page is linked to a Facebook tribute page to Anni Dewani. Though most of the messages are supportive of both Shrien and Anni, several contributors mention the prospect of extradition. - Weekend Argus

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