Dewani murder car turned into taxi

Crime & Courts

Cape Town - To the many passers-by walking their dogs along the road between the Liesbeek River and Valkenberg Hospital in Observatory it appears that honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani is doing all he can to meet his provisional trial date of October 6 in the Western Cape High Court.

In fact, those who have seen him regularly through the fence will have noticed that he returns from his daily walks in high spirits, laughing and joking with his everpresent police guard and nurse who accompany him whenever he leaves his ward.

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Meanwhile, on the other side of Cape Town out on the Flats, the notorious taxi in which his bride Anni was slain in November 2010, is back at work on the streets againpicture and story Mike BehrHoneymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani looks in high spirits as he returns from shopping for his weekly quota of eggs, bottled water and other supplies… picture and story Mike Behr

And now, as these exclusive pictures reveal, Dewani appears to be like an athlete in training for the fight of his life, as he stocks up weekly at the Valkenberg tuck shop with a tray of eggs, litres of bottled water and other supplies.

“He goes out almost every morning for a long walk around the hospital grounds,” says an inside source.

“And I’ve heard he is also doing exercises in one of the halls on the grounds.”

Sources report that Dewani has vegetarian meals prepared in the hospital kitchen, but that he sits down to them privately and not in the ward dining room along with the other patients.

And since his arrival at Valkenberg in early April he has been supplementing those meals with a tray of eggs a week and protein shakes from a large tin in his room which has been cordoned off from the rest of the ward.

“He seems pretty committed to staying healthy and fit,” said the source.

It’s not just Dewani’s healthy lifestyle that catches the eye.

It’s the image he projects.

When the weather is good he walks in shorts and trainers and looks like he’s heading for a gym workout.

Other times he sets out from his ward in track pants bearing the feisty slogan of a boxer gearing up for a big bout: “Fight Me” it screams.

His track top reveals a positive frame of mind: “A little grey hair,” it reads, “is a small price to pay for this much wisdom.”

Meanwhile, just over 20 km away on the other side of Cape Town, the VW Sharan in which Dewani’s bride Anni was slain fours years ago, is back on the road again as a taxi.

But it’s no longer a tourist cab.

Owned by a preacher oblivious of his vehicle’s past, one of Cape Town’s most notorious taxis now spends the week ferrying workers to and from their factory jobs.

It is frequently hired out as a bridal car or a family car for a funeral.

When required, it also backs up the preacher’s taxi fleet to run mercy missions, carrying food parcels to the township poor.

The honeymoon murder taxi went off the radar after police completed their investigation of the vehicle four years ago.

It was not seen again after being returned to its owner, the girlfriend of Zola Tongo, the taxi driver who was jailed in 2010 for an effective 18 years for his coordinating role in the murder and hijacking of Anni Dewani.

Tongo negotiated a plea bargain and will testify for the state when Shrien Dewani eventually stands trial.

But following months of fruitless searching the Weekend Argus, The Sunday Independent’s sister paper, eventually tracked the taxi down this month and found it at work again.

Bizarrely, unbeknown to its owner or driver, it was spotted travelling some of the same routes taken that fateful November 2010 night, through Gugulethu and Khayelitsha where Anni’s body was found slumped across the taxi’s back seat.

Current driver Leon Steyn is all too aware of the danger of his beat.

“I’m always on the alert, especially in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, especially at weekends.”

And so far his vigilance has paid off, not least when he believed he was a hijack target.

“I was at a robot and these two guys behind me were hooting like they needed help and wanted me to get out of the car. But something told me it wasn’t right. So I just put my foot flat and got out of there. That’s why I call this the getaway car. This is a missile, this thing. It’s like a Golf 5. If a skollie wants to hijack me he must rather have a Porsche to catch me.”

Steyn was as flabbergasted as his preacher boss, Ephyre Kayser, to learn of their taxi’s dark past.

“Meneer, I was shocked,” said the Kayser Transport Services boss who is also a New Vision of Christ pastor.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

“But I’m a man of God so it doesn’t worry me. I’m doing good things with the vehicle now,” said Kayser who has been doing outreach work from his small zinc church in Mfuleni for the last seven years.

“When my taxis are not taking people to work, they’re helping the poor and the needy by taking food and clothes donations to Mfuleni and other townships.

“But I need all the donations I can get because there are a lot of people out there who need my church’s help.” - Sunday Independent

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