Advertisement
X

Anni: hunt for worker at hotel

Police are hunting for a 31-year-old man who works for a top city hotel in connection with the murder of Anni Dewani, the honeymooner killed in an apparent hijacking in Gugulethu two weeks ago.

They already have three suspects in custody.

Murdered bride Anni Dewani. Credit: AP

The driver of the Dewanis’ taxi, Zola Tongo, 31, and Xolile Mngeni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, are facing charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court. Tongo has told the court he wants to enter into a plea deal with the state.

The fourth man being sought is understood to be a link between Anni’s husband, British millionaire Shrien Dewani, and Tongo, according to a source close to the case.

Yesterday, a man and a woman, with their faces hidden, were rushed into the back entrance at Manenberg police station to observe an identity parade.

A large media contingent surrounded the police station, eager to see if Shrien Dewani, 30, would appear. Journalists were told both witnesses were local, and that Dewani was not present.

It remains unclear if Dewani, the director of a British healthcare company with reported debts of £6.25 million (R69.8m), has returned to South Africa to see the identity parade. On Friday two sources close to the case said he was in the country and would attend the parade.

But Dewani’s Joburg-based lawyer Billy Gundelfinger strongly denied this, saying his client was grieving.

At Manenberg police station vehicles from Bellville and Gugulethu police stations arrived with sirens blaring, and sped through the gates to the back of the property. The witnesses were hiding with heads covered. Three policemen guarded the gate.

More than two hours later lawyers for two of the accused, Vusi Tshabalala and Thabo Nogemane, said the witnesses, who were from Cape Town, had each identified two people in the parade, which featured three suspects.

Last week, Dewani hired South African divorce and celebrity lawyer Gundelfinger and the Max Clifford PR firm in Britain to represent him, claiming he was being set up by the South African police for his wife’s brutal slaying.

Clifford is perhaps Britain’s most famous public relations practitioner.

He accused South African police of “muck-spreading”.

He told the British tabloid The Sun yesterday that Dewani was being smeared with “foul” rumours. Clifford was quoted as saying: “It has been claimed it was an arranged marriage and there was insurance money on Anni’s life.

“Both those claims are lies and are deeply hurtful to Shrien. Other rumours include the allegation he knew the taxi driver before the holiday, which is also totally untrue.”

In a statement yesterday Gundelfinger, said: “Contrary to reports, the prosecution is not arresting or charging my client Mr Dewani.

“At this stage Shrien has not been asked to go back to South Africa. As you can imagine he has been severely traumatised by the country and the specific threats that he, too, may be a target in the South African press.

“He is currently receiving medical assistance to help deal with the trauma. The family are in constant contact with the police and are fully co-operating.”

Gundelfinger said no negotiations were taking place to get Dewani to South Africa voluntarily or to attend an identity parade.

“Dewani is suffering from shock and grief and his progress is being monitored by a doctor. He will be unavailable for interviews for the next few days.”

Dewani protested his innocence in an interview with The Sun last week, saying: “How could anyone say I killed her?”

Top Western Cape crime lawyer, William Booth, who was at the Manenberg police station, said he thought it odd that Dewani had appointed a divorce lawyer. Last week Gundelfinger had called him for advice.

In response to reports in the British press that the police were under political pressure to pin the murder on Dewani, Melany Kühn, spokeswoman for community safety MEC Albert Fritz, said the minister would not entertain any speculation that this was a drive to protect South African tourism. “Someone did something and they have to pay for the wrong they did. The police should be allowed to do their work.”

All three suspects will appear in the Wynberg court tomorrow when the state hopes to finalise the driver’s plea. - Weekend Argus

SHOW ALL
Advertisement