Dewani calls murder claims ‘absurd’

2010-12-07 13:16

Claims that Shrien Dewani took out a hit on his wife are “totally absurd and insane”, his publicist Max Clifford said today, after speaking to Dewani.

The allegations were made by the driver of the shuttle car the Dewanis used when they came to Cape Town for their honeymoon.

The driver, 31-year-old Zola Tongo, was sentenced to an effective 18 years’ imprisonment for the murder of Anni Dewani following a plea bargain between the State and Tongo’s defence team.

The plea deal involved Tongo revealing details of the alleged plot to the state, including that Shrein Dewani had conspired to have his Swedish wife killed and make it look like a hijacking.

The Briton would then allegedly pay Tongo and his co-conspirators R15 000 for the hit. Tongo claims that he was only paid R1 000 for his part in the murder plot.

Allegations ‘insane’ But speaking to Sky News on behalf of Dewani, publicist Max Clifford slammed the claims and said his client had called them “totally absurd and insane”.

“These allegations are totally ludicrous, extremely convenient for South Africa and hurtful for a young man (who is) grieving,” Clifford told Sky.

Asked if Dewani would return to South Africa to face the allegations, Clifford said there was no need to return and that SA police had not even tried speaking to his client.

“He had a lawyer in SA working on his behalf (and) there were no requests to return.”

Last Friday, Dewani’s lawyer in South Africa, Billy Gundelfinger, quit the case.When asked again if he would return to Cape Town, Clifford said that Dewani would have to consult with his lawyers and decide for himself.

“He wants justice for the murder of his wife, he wants the truth to come out.

Very little truth has come out of South Africa about this whole matter.

“It has made the nightmare for him even worse. What we want to know from police is how exactly he can help them.

They haven’t tried to contact him.

“We have reservations about what was given as evidence today. Let’s see what evidence there is to back up these accusations, what truth.“

SA police said two weeks ago that he is not a suspect.

That’s the only true communication that has come from the official bodies.

”Questions arose following conflicting statements Dewani made regarding events on the night of Anni’s murder, when they were apparently hijacked".

Substantial evidence Tongo’s lawyer, William da Grass, said it would only be logical for the state to agree to a plea deal if there was substantial evidence.

“Crucial information was revealed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA),” Da Grass said.

Meanwhile, the NPA would not comment on whether Dewani would be extradited from the UK.

“That process, by its very nature, is investigative. We won’t be commenting on that process because we don’t want to jeopardise that process,” NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

He said the “possibility exists” that Dewani would be extradited.“There is an inter-departmental process that involves the departments of justice and international affairs and co-operation and the NPA,” said Ntabazalila.

Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk also refused to comment on whether the police were trying to extradite the British businessman.

Two other men allegedly involved in the murder, Xolile Mnguni (23) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe (25) would remain in custody until appearing in the Wynberg Regional Court again on February 25 next year.

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