Husband held over honeymoon murder to remain in custody

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An abrupt turnaround in court yesterday led to the honeymoon widower Shrien Dewani being remanded in custody just minutes after he had been granted bail.

Mr Dewani was appearing at City of Westminster magistrates' court for an extradition hearing following a request from the South African authorities that he answer allegations that he conspired to murder his wife, Anni, during their honeymoon in Cape Town last month.

His application for bail was initially approved, with a £250,000 surety, but an immediate appeal by South African authorities means he will remain in jail until the next hearing, which must be held by tomorrow. The 30-year-old has been implicated in the murder of his 28-year-old bride by a taxi driver, Zola Tongo, who on Monday was sent to prison for 18 years for his part in the murder.

Tongo claims that Mr Dewani offered to pay him R15,000 (£1,300) to recruit hitmen for the murder. Mr Dewani, who was arrested after handing himself in to police on Tuesday night, denies playing any part in the crime and is opposing extradition.

South African detectives want to question Mr Dewani about a number of suspicious circumstances that were cited during the hearing yesterday. "He's wanted for conspiracy to murder his wife on honeymoon," said Ben Watson, the lawyer acting for the South African authorities. "Other defendants have been arrested and one has pleaded guilty. They have alleged Mr Dewani paid them to kill his wife ... If he's found guilty he will face a substantial custodial sentence."

The lawyer also claimed that even the strictest bail conditions might not prevent Mr Dewani from running away. "He has access to huge sums of money that could assist him if he intends to flee," Mr Watson said.

The court heard that South African police believe that the fact Mr Dewani and the taxi driver both emerged unscathed from the incident – in which gunmen took control of the cab and later shot Mrs Dewani – has raised their concerns. They also want to look into why the couple did not take their hotel's shuttle service, and why Tongo took them to a restaurant known to be shut, in a township that was known to be dangerous. It was also disclosed that Tongo claims that Mr Dewani may have previously arranged another killing.

Tongo apparently said that he believed the Briton had visited South Africa and "had done something like this before, and said he wanted the murder to look like a hijacking".