‘Only Shrien can tell us the full truth’Comment on this story
The circumstances surrounding the murder of newlywed Anni Dewani will be revealed only when her husband, Shrien, stands trial, her father has said.
“The story of my innocent daughter still remains incomplete. The full picture will only emerge when Shrien comes down to Cape Town and faces the trial and extradition that he has,” Vinod Hindocha said as he stood on the stairs of the Cape Town High Court.
“Me and my wife, we have not slept a full night since Anni left us – and Shrien holds the key to that… We need all the questions answered so that we can move on with our lives. It’s hard without Anni.”
Yesterday, Hindocha and son Anish sat in court where Xolile Mngeni, 25, the man who shot Anni, was sentenced to life in prison.
Hindocha said he had flown in straight from Shrien Dewani’s hearing in the UK to look into Mngeni’s eyes during sentencing.
Dewani, 28, was shot dead in a purported hijacking on November 13, 2010, while on honeymoon in Cape Town. Her body was found slumped on the back seat of the car the next day.
British businessman Shrien, 32, who is accused of organising the hit on his wife, has repeatedly denied the allegations.
He has been fighting extradition to South Africa on the grounds that he is being treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Western Cape spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila, said the full extradition hearing was set down for July 1 to July 5 in the Westminster Magistrate’s Court.
Zola Tongo is serving 18 years and Mziwamadoda Qwabe 25 years, under plea and sentencing agreements, for their roles in the murder.
The hotel receptionist who acted as the middleman in the supposed contract killing, was released from prosecution because the court found his testimony in Mngeni’s trial sufficient.
Besides life imprisonment, Mngeni was sentenced to 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. These terms are to run concurrently.
Mngeni will be eligible for parole only in 25 years.
Judge Robert Henney said Mngeni had come across as a merciless and evil person who consistently showed no remorse.
He went shopping for branded clothing mere hours after the murder, lied to the court, wasted time with a protracted trial and had maintained his innocence throughout, despite overwhelming evidence.
“[Anni] did not suspect anything untoward when taken into Gugulethu to be callously slaughtered. She was totally defenceless and left to the mercy of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and the accused to be killed, after she was abandoned by her husband,” he said.
“It's difficult to imagine the absolute terror and horror she must have endured when she stared down the barrel of the gun… It was an act of shameless cowardice when the accused shot her at point-blank range.”
Mngeni had hoped to come away with a lighter sentence because of his rare brain tumour, which was diagnosed in May last year.
In May this year, there was no sign of the tumour after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The court heard that should it return, Mngeni would probably have only two to five years to live.
Judge Henney said that in a constitutional democracy, the court should not lose sight of the element of mercy, based on human dignity.
However, Mngeni’s medical condition in the case of a contract killing was not a substantial and compelling circumstance to deviate from the minimum sentence for premeditated murder.
“Our courts here and elsewhere have said that mere ill health of a person who committed a serious offence cannot be regarded as a get-out-of-jail ticket.”
The court had kept in mind the brutality of the crime, the “absolute arrogance and heartlessness” of Mngeni, and the suffering of the Hindocha family.
“The perception is easily created that in this country, one can randomly approach any person and such a person… would agree to commit such a murder,” the judge said. “I want to send home the message that the life of a human being at whatever cost is not cheap, no matter what the circumstances may be.”