The British newlywed accused of hiring a hitman to kill his bride has won bail despite claims in the High Court that the “net was closing in” on him.
Wealthy businessman Shrien Dewani, 30, is facing a bid by the South African authorities to extradite him for conspiracy to murder new wife Anni, 28, who was found dead in the back of an abandoned taxi in a Cape Town township with a single bullet wound to her neck on November 13.
Mr Dewani’s family welcomed a judge’s decision to grant the care home owner £250,000 bail on Friday, saying in a joint statement: “We are all delighted that the courts have consistently upheld Shrien Dewani’s right to bail.”
South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said it would continue preparing extradition papers, and the country’s justice minister Jeff Radebe said it is simply untrue to suggest he would not get a fair trial.
Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, faces electronic tagging, home curfew and having to report daily to the police pending further extradition hearings.
He was held in custody after the South African authorities issued a provisional arrest warrant as the first stage to seeking his extradition.
The warrant came after taxi driver Zola Tongo, as part of a plea agreement for his part in the killing, accused Dewani of offering to pay 15,000 rand (£1,400) for his wife’s murder and ordering it to appear like a bungled carjacking as they drove through the notorious township of Gugulethu.
On Friday, lawyers for the South Africans asked the judge to overturn the decision at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this week allowing bail. Ben Watson, representing the prosecutors, told the court there was significant new evidence which had not been put before the Westminster court that demonstrated a “very powerful” case against Dewani.
He said “the net was closing in” and Dewani should not be granted bail “even on the most stringent conditions”. CCTV footage of meetings between Dewani and Tongo, without Dewani’s wife present, supported the taxi driver’s account of the murder conspiracy, said Mr Watson. Other footage showed Tongo “surreptitiously” receiving “a white, plastic packet” from Dewani three days after the murder.
But Clare Montgomery QC, for Dewani, argued that there is nothing in the fresh material and it added nothing to the summary of information already provided.