SMSes tell of Anni Dewani’s unhappinessComment on this story
Pretoria - A series of anguished text messages from honeymoon murder victim Anni Dewani - revealed for the first time - show how desperate she was to escape her troubled relationship with the man accused of conspiring to murder her.
The dramatic texts, contained in a South African police file, are the first evidence to emerge of Anni’s intimate feelings about her husband since her death in 2010 in a car hijacking in Cape Town.
Over a period of four months before the murder, 28-year-old Anni sent messages to her cousin Sneha in Britain. They show the young bride had deep-seated reservations about Dewani.
In one despairing message five weeks before the wedding, Anni tells Sneha: “I don’t want to marry him… I’m going to be unhappy for the rest of my life.… one cannot even hug him… we have nothing in common.”
In another text, Anni wrote: “Want to cry myself to death.”
Yet another read: “Crying every day.” A month before the wedding she texted: “Hate him.”
And three days before her death, she messaged Sneha: “I don’t feel happy at all.”
Sneha has told police that Anni called off the engagement and marriage at least three times, only for Shrien to change her mind each time.
When the texts are taken alongside statements from other witnesses, the police files depict a marriage that was doomed before it began.
Some of the most disturbing evidence in the files comes from a male prostitute, 40, based in Birmingham, who told police he met Dewani for sex sessions after the relationship with Anni had begun.
Munich-born Leopold Leisser, known as the “German Master”, told police that Dewani - whom he photographed during one of their meetings - told him that he was engaged. “He said she was a nice, lovely girl, and he liked her, but he could not break out of it because he would be disowned by the family.’
In addition to Anni’s distressing texts, previously unseen CCTV footage of the couple at about the time of the killing has been uncovered in a joint investigation by The Mail on Sunday and BBC’s Panorama and is likely to play a key role in any court case in South Africa. In one startling image, taken just 24 hours before the killing, Dewani is seen making an unfortunate gesture which could be misconstrued as mimicking a gun.
And just a day after the murder, he is seen apparently smiling during a phone call to relatives.
Swedish-born Anni was kidnapped and shot dead in November 2010 while on honeymoon with millionaire Dewani, 33, from Bristol.
Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who testified that Dewani set up the killing, was jailed with two gunmen. Dewani fought a long legal battle against extradition to South Africa to face a conspiracy to murder charge. He lost and now his lawyers, citing his mental health, have appealed to the Supreme Court.
Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha, 64, and Sneha, 30, had misgivings about the relationship even before the lavish £200 000 wedding in a Mumbai hotel. Anni’s father told police she wanted to end the engagement and walked out on her husband-to-be. Hindocha said Anni had told him: “Papa, he’s like a Hitler - but don’t worry - I will get married.”
Sneha told police that Anni’s doubts about Dewani first emerged in 2009, a year before the wedding. “Anni told me that she had tried to be intimate but Dewani had pushed her away,” her statement says.
“She felt embarrassed and hurt by Dewani’s reaction and we both felt it was weird.”
The same thing happened a few weeks later. “Anni and I speculated that maybe he was a virgin or perhaps not wanting to be intimate before marriage.”
Sneha said Dewani told Anni that his behaviour was due to hormone treatment for infertility.
Her reaction was immediate: “Anni broke off the relationship because she wanted to have children in the future,” said Sneha.
Two months later, Dewani claimed the treatment was working and he could now have sex and father children, persuading her to rekindle the relationship.
But doubts remained. “Anni told me they fought and argued a lot,” Sneha told police. “These trivial arguments were continuous.”
In May 2010, shortly before their engagement that month, Anni e-mailed Dewani again, calling it off, but he promised to “change his ways” and it went ahead.
Anni’s texts to Sneha, translated from Swedish, begin in August 2010 when Anni was visiting Shrien’s family:
* August 5, 2010: “Miss you so much. Don’t want to be with these people. I hate them. Want to cry myself to death.”
* August 25: “Can’t understand why I’m crying all the time.”
By September, matters had reached a head while Anni was in India for wedding preparations:
* September 3: “Crying every day. I feel abandoned by everybody.”
* September 16: “Fighting a lot with Shrien. Told him I’m going home. Wish I never got engaged. Everyone tells me how fortunate I am - even my designer tells me he’s good-looking and that I am lucky. Absolutely sick. We’re seeing each other for three days and only fight.”
* September 21: “I don’t want to marry him. I’m going to be unhappy for the rest of my life. If I know [sic] news like this I would not have got engaged. Feels bad that everyone has booked their tickets. I’m not happy. One cannot even hug him. We have nothing in common. He’s a perfectionist.”
* September 22: “Told his and my parents I don’t want to get married.”
Her father, an electrical contractor, told police he received a tearful call from Dewani’s grandmother Ansyuben in India. “(She) begged me to talk to Anni, stating their family reputation would be zero if Anni decided not to go through with the wedding.”
But the worrying texts from Anni to Sneha continue:
* September 23: ‘We are going to sort everything out but I still feel the same way. September 23 it is not 100 percent good yet.’
A week later, Anni makes her feelings plain after another row:
* September 30: “Hate him. I am not happy.”
Sneha told detectives: “There was a huge amount of animosity between them which resulted in her throwing her engagement ring at him.
“She was concerned that Dewani was lying about being unable to have children.
“She explained her sadness at the fact that they were fighting all the time and that they were not sharing a bed and intimacy as he chose to sleep on the sofa.
“He promised he would try his best to change his ways. Anni agreed to go ahead with the wedding.’”
During the two-day ceremony in Mumbai in late October, an upset Anni asked her cousin if she looked beautiful. Sneha told police this was because “Dewani’s first words to Anni as she approached him on the red carpet were ‘your sari is not proper’.”
According to Sneha’s police statement, Anni told her she and Dewani had agreed to “act out the rest of the wedding ceremonies”.
Later, summoned to the honeymoon suite to take clothes to Anni, Sneha was surprised to be asked inside. “I asked Anni if they had done it, meaning had sex. Anni replied, ‘No, what do you think? I told you we were just acting’.”
Back in the UK after the wedding, Anni said she had again decided to leave Dewani. Sneha told police: “She did not want to go with Dewani to South Africa or anywhere else as she wanted a divorce.”
Anni’s texts suggest she was no happier once the couple were in Cape Town on honeymoon:
* November 10: “What shall I do? It’s been one day and I feel exactly the same as before. I’m really trying. He is a very nice guy but I don’t feel happy at all.”
Yet only the next day - two days before her death - Anni appears to have had a complete change of heart, texting: “Hello! It’s much better now. How are you?
“Is going better than before. Hard to explain but I’ll call you soon as I return. Hate the word divorce.”
Two nights later, Anni was shot dead. Her family told police they noticed strange behaviour from Dewani over the funeral arrangements in the UK.
Hindocha claimed that Dewani refused Anni’s mother any private time with her body and prevented her family from placing roses in the casket, saying: “I don’t want this coffin to look like a dustbin.”
The Mail on Sunday contacted the SAPS and Dewani’s legal counsel Andrew Smith but received no response.
Dewani, a care home owner from Bristol, has always denied ordering the killing of Anni.
He has always denied being gay and says he can prove he was elsewhere on the dates male prostitute Leisser said they met.