Honeymoon murder trial to start
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa is preparing for another high-profile murder trial weeks after athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide.
The trial of British businessman Shrien Dewani, who is accused of ordering the killing of his wife while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010, is to start Monday after a lengthy legal process to extradite him from the UK to South Africa.
South African prosecutors argue that Dewani conspired with three South African men to kill his wife, Anni. The South Africans have been convicted of the crime and are serving jail terms.
Dewani faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and defeating the ends of justice. He was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2010 and was sent here earlier this year after a British court ruled that he should stand trial in South Africa.
The murder suspect is being held at a psychiatric hospital in Cape Town where he is under constant observation. Dewani’s mental health has been under scrutiny after he attempted to commit suicide in 2011.
Speaking on the eve of the trial’s start, Anni Dewani’s uncle, Ashok Hindocha, said the family’s wait for justice has been “agonizing” and they want answers so they can mourn properly.
“We have been let down for four years by the justice system. We have been to every court case, in England and South Africa, thinking: `How can we come to a closure?’ Now we know we are coming to an end,” said Hindocha, speaking to the British Press Association. Members of the victim’s family arrived in Cape Town where they will stay for the duration of the trial.
Prosecutors argue that Dewani paid Cape Town residents Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni to kill his wife. Dewani claimed he and his wife were hijacked and kidnapped at gunpoint in November 2010. During the incident Dewani was released unharmed, while Anni was shot in the neck and died.
Unlike the Pistorius case, the trial will not be broadcast live on television because of fears the media attention would exacerbate Dewani’s mental state, further delaying the trial.