Dewani and the Eastern Cape link
Shrien Dewani walked out of a London court yesterday – on bail of R2,7 million. But now Eastern Cape police are investigating whether he was involved in the hijacking and shooting of a King Williamstown doctor four years ago.
Dewani, who was fingered in a dramatic plea bargain by Cape Town taxi driver Zola Tongo this week for arranging the hijacking and murder of his brand-new bride Anni in Gugulethu four weeks ago for R15 000, was arrested by British police on Wednesday.
The millionaire care home owner was finally released on bail from London’s Wandsworth prison last night. He will wear an electronic tag and is under strict curfew as the South African government prepares to have him extradited to face trial here.
Tongo claimed in his confession on Tuesday that Dewani had told him he had previously arranged for someone to be killed in a fake hijacking in South Africa.
Now detectives are looking to see if this isn’t the missing clue to the unsolved murder of Dr Pox Raghavjee.
At the time of the Port Elizabeth doctor’s murder, police said his wife, Heather Raghavjee, had reported him missing after he did not open his surgery and failed to answer his cellphone at 9:30am on October 29, 2007. No motive for the murder was ever established as his cellphone, watch and wallet with R500 were found on the scene.
“Soon after the murder of Dr Pox, his wife went and stayed in Cape Town where she was said to be grieving and it is understood that she had visited the mother city before the murder as well,” said a source close to the case.
Heather Raghavjee has close ties to Dewani and his family. She travelled with King Williamstown businessman Peter Dhaya to Cape Town on the Monday after Anni was killed to comfort Dewani.
“Shrien’s father and family were here (King Williamstown) last December and that is how Heather came to know and befriend the family because my family hosted them,” Dhaya confirmed to the Saturday Star’s sister newspaper, the Weekend Argus, yesterday.
Although she did not want to go into details about the investigation, police spokesperson Captain Thozama Solani said they were now investigating the case and trying to see if there were any links between the two murders.
“The case had always been open and remained a mystery to us because even though there was a R100 000 reward offered there were no leads, but in light of the new information we are putting all we have got in solving the case,” said Solani.
Yesterday, Tongo’s family publicly apologised to Anni Dewani’s family and the country for his role in her murder.
Tongo’s aunt, Nokwanda Tongo, said: “We know it will not bring your child back. We humbly apologise for Zola’s role.”
She also apologised to the country for the damage the case has caused its reputation. She and his mother, Liziwe, planned to visit him in prison today. “We are in shock and would like some answers.”
Tongo’s aunt said his mother was too traumatised to speak to the media. She was admitted to hospital for a week after she heard that her son had been arrested.
“It is a huge shock for all of us that Zola could be involved in something like this. He comes from a good family. He worked hard and was quiet. He was not a criminal and was not involved in crimes or with gangsters. We are all asking: why did he do it?”
Earlier this week Tongo was jailed for 18 years as part of a plea bargain after being convicted of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and perverting the course of justice.
In his confession, Tongo said Dewani offered to pay R15 000 for the murder of his new wife, Anni, 28. He claimed he was told to make it look like a hijacking as they drove through Gugulethu.
Dewani handed himself over to police in Bristol and appeared in the City of Westminster Magistrate’s Court on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder just hours after Tongo’s statement was read.
Yesterday lawyers for the South African government told a British court that there was significant new evidence – including closed-circuit footage showing Dewani allegedly obtaining black market money to fund the murder – indicating there was a powerful case against him.
But Judge Duncan Ouseley disagreed. “I have concluded that he has a continuing and realistic interest in making sure that he clears his name.
“He has no criminal convictions, is professionally qualified and his family is of high standing in the local community in Bristol, with no obvious interest in helping him to abscond.”
Because of the “tragic and terrible murder of his wife”, his face was well known and it would be difficult for him to depart the UK or “go underground”.
Last night National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA respected the ruling and was preparing documents for an extradition hearing. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe guaranteed that Dewani would get a fair trial if the extradition bid succeeded. “Our courts jealously uphold and enforce the Constitution, including the accused’s rights.”
Two other people, Xolile Mnguni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. They are expected to appear in court in February. A fourth suspect Monde Mbolombo, who used to work for Protea Hotel Colosseum, was named as the link between Tongo and the two alleged gunmen. - Saturday Star