A man has appeared in court charged with murdering a newlywed on honeymoon with her British husband in South Africa.
Anni Dewani, 28, was shot dead after gunmen hijacked a taxi during a bungled robbery while she and her husband Shrien visited a township in Cape Town.
Mr Dewani, 31, and their driver were forced from the car and flagged down a motorist for help. Mrs Dewani’s body was discovered in the abandoned vehicle the next day.
The couple, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, had only been married for a fortnight before they were attacked on November 13. Mr Dewani was said to be in a “dreadful state” following the attack and is now receiving medical assistance to help him deal with the trauma.
He has rejected speculation he was somehow involved in the incident earlier this month, saying: “People who suggest this could not have seen us together.”
The 30-year-old businessman has described how he saw an African man hammering on the windscreen of the VW Sharan taxi during their excursion before gunmen broke into the vehicle. “I tried to cover Anni with my body. She started to scream and cry out hysterically,” he said.
After shoving their driver in the back, the carjackers drove around at speed and almost lost control, also holding a gun to his head and threatening to kill his wife. “I was clinging to Anni for all I was worth – begging them to let us both get out of the car together. But they wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t get me out because the child locks were activated – so they ended up dragging me struggling and screaming out of the window,” he added.
Xolile Mngeni, 26, the first suspect arrested in connection with the case, appeared in Cape Town’s Wynberg Regional Court accused of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and kidnapping. Rodney de Kock, the director of the Western Cape directorate for public prosecutions, told the court Mngeni, of Khayelitsha, had been granted free legal representation.
The couple’s driver on the night, Zola Tonga, appeared in court on Monday alongside another man, Mzwamadoda Qwabe, 26, from Khayelitsha, facing the same charges. They are alleged to have robbed Mrs Dewani of her expensive wristwatch, a white-gold and diamond bracelet, her handbag and her mobile phone.
Both the murder and robbery charges carry sentences of life imprisonment in South Africa. The case was adjourned to next Monday when all three men are due back in court.