Shrien Dewani may never speak publicly about his wife Anni’s murder after a London coroner ruled that a full inquest into her death was unlikely.
Despite pressure from Anni Dewani’s family, North London coroner Andrew Walker ruled that a full hearing in the UK would not have any “useful purpose” after last December’s court case in Cape Town saw Shrien acquitted of murder.
Walker said he would write to the widower asking him to attend another coroner’s court date next month to answer questions from Anni’s family, but he is not compelled to do either and with his previous reluctance to co-operate, it is unlikely he will ever speak publicly about the night of his new bride’s death.
Anni’s body was found shot dead in the back of a taxi following an alleged hijacking in a Cape Town township on November 14, 2010. Three men – Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni – were handed prison terms for their role in the killing which they claimed Shrien orchestrated.
He has always denied involvement in her death and was acquitted of murder at the high court following a long extradition battle in the UK.
Anni’s father Vinod, his arm in a sling after a freak lift accident in May, was accompanied by his brother Ashok at court, where they tried to convince Walker to hold a full inquest.
The family have long complained about Shrien’s silence about the night she died and are still angry he did not take the stand in Cape Town after the trial collapsed. During the trial he admitted in statements to being bisexual and sleeping with male prostitutes.
However, Walker said his powers would not go beyond the criminal trial in Cape Town and he could not force Shrien to incriminate himself by answering questions.
Walker told the hearing: “I don’t think there will be any useful purpose in us having an inquest. The questions you wish him to answer, if he wishes to impose rule 22, he won’t answer.
“There was an extensive trial in South Africa. I am satisfied that the matters would have been answered in South Africa in a way we couldn’t here. I’m going to direct that your questions are sent to Mr Dewani and Mr Dewani is to indicate whether he would be prepared to answer those questions.”
Ashok Hindocha told the hearing: “The statements from Shrien Dewani, what he told the press, what he told the South African Police are not the same. We didn’t get the chance to hear the right story from him and that’s one of the many reasons we would like to have an inquest, to hear what really happened in his words.”
A visibly distressed Vinod Hindocha added: “We would like him to come under oath and answer questions. It has been five years now and I still don't know what happened to my daughter.”
Outside court Anni’s father called on his son-in-law to ‘be a man’ and finally answer the family’s questions. He said: “I would say to him be a man and come forward. We have many questions.
“I think if he’s man enough he should come. What’s he got to be afraid of? Just tell us what happened and we can get on with our lives. Be a man, come forward and tell us what happened that night.”
The inquest into Anni Dewani’s death opened in 2010 but was suspended pending the criminal investigation. She lived in North London before her death and she was cremated there after which her ashes were scattered in a lake in her native Sweden. – Foreign Service