Dewani family checks into plush hotel in Mother City

2014-04-13 15:01

Shrien Dewani’s megawealthy family is staying at a posh Cape Town hotel just down the road from the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital where he is being mentally assessed.

The 33-year-old was formally charged with murdering his 28-year-old bride, Anni, at the Western Cape High Court following an extradition battle spanning nearly four years. He looked worn with greying hair in the dock on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the justice department is dodging bullets over Dewani’s R2.9 million

tax-funded private jet trip on Monday night, which they claim was justified because of his “peculiar medical condition”.

Dewani was transported on a Gulfstream V plane chartered from Dana Executive Jets, which describes the plane as “elegant and spacious”, and “equipped with the latest communications and entertainment technologies”.

The jet can accommodate 14 people in seats upholstered in cream leather. The plane’s interior is pearly white, with wood and chrome finishes.

“It is an ideal private travel solution for VIPs, business executives, high-profile diplomats, upper class socialites and elite families,” says the company’s website.

But the luxury didn’t last for Dewani, who will be held for mental observation until his next court appearance on May 12.

Dewani’s parents, Shila and Prakash, his brother Preyen and sister Preyal were seen visiting him at Valkenberg this week. Afterwards a taxi dropped the Dewani family off at the five-star Crystal Towers Hotel, situated next to a palm-lined canal at Century City, just 10km away.

The family is based in Bristol in the UK and owns PSP Healthcare, which manages a chain of luxury nursing homes and retirement developments across England.?Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock will argue that Dewani had paid three men to kill his wife in Gugulethu in November 2010.

The couple’s driver, Zola Tongo, admitted to his part in the crime, claiming Dewani paid him R15?000 to kill Anni. The two hit men, Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, were given a life sentence and 25 years in prison, respectively.

The drama played off against the backdrop of Cape Town’s top-end hospitality industry. The honeymoon couple was staying at the five-star Cape Grace Hotel before Anni died. CCTV hotel footage show the pair strolling over plush carpets hours before her death.

This week waitress Sipho Pontshi told City Press that one of the hit men, namely Mngeni, served sushi with her at trendy Tank Restaurant in the Cape Quarter for years before the murder. “We grew up together in Langa, Xolile and I. He was a nice guy. When I heard the news that he was arrested, I started crying. I mean, I couldn’t believe it.”

She described Mngeni as “a coconut”, but humble.

She recalled serving seafood to various celebrities, including Steven Seagal, alongside Mngeni at Tank Restaurant, which has since shut down.

Dewani will only stand trial in South Africa if he is found mentally fit to do so.

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