Newsmaker – Shrien Dewani: Gentle soul, kinkster, killer?

2014-10-12 15:00

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Shrien Dewani is a sensitive soul, apologising for “controlling” behaviour and prone to tears as he tried to keep his bride Anni’s wedding jitters at bay.

That’s one of the two pictures that emerged in the Western Cape High Court this week as the wealthy Brit navigated his way through the first week of his murder trial.

The other picture, which prompted such lascivious tabloid headlines as “Bumshell!” this week, is of the 34-year-old as a bisexual man who sought sex online using websites like Gaydar and the fetish portal Recon.

Shrien’s own legal team was responsible for placing both versions of the man before the court, with his lawyer Francois van Zyl describing Dewani’s secret online sexcapades in documents attached to his client’s plea statement.

Dewani’s early admission about his bisexuality might well be a pre-emptive measure against the prosecution’s expected line of argument: that he was gay and killed Anni in a desperate bid to get out of a marriage essentially orchestrated by two megawealthy families.

Friends and family have, since Anni’s murder in 2010, insisted that the couple did not have an arranged marriage and were introduced by mutual acquaintances.

With one aspect of his life laid bare, the plea statement pressed home its version of Dewani as a devoted, loving husband who adored his wife.

In an email written to her on May 24 2010 after an argument, he says: “I have always wanted a girl I can be friends with. One that understands me?–?and I know that that is not easy.

“I know that I am so focussed that some people think I am so intense. I am focussed on achieving things in life. I want to be someone who can do things?–?and that is not just about making money, but it is about having a rounded life.

“A family, a business, an input into the community. When we first met and started dating I knew that you were that girl?...?I actually have tears in my eyes as I write it.”

Hard-working family man seems more in keeping with Dewani’s posh, strictly Hindu upbringing than bisexual kinkster on the prowl.

He attended the exclusive, private Bristol Grammar School, which costs about R200?000 a year, before qualifying as an accountant at the University of Manchester.

He was working at Deloitte in London when he met Anni in 2009?–?their first formal date was a theatre outing to watch The Lion King?– after which he returned to Bristol to run the family firm, PSP Healthcare.

The man at the centre of it all sat in the dock immaculately dressed in a crisp, white shirt and dark suit.

Gone was the hollow-eyed, wild-haired figure who appeared in Britain’s courts over a period of three years trying to fight his extradition on the grounds of ill mental health.

This week he scribbled furiously in a notebook, looking calm and, according to some in the public gallery, “tranquillised to the gills”.

It’s not clear what psychiatric regimen?–?if any –?he’s following while he is being detained at Cape Town’s Valkenberg psychiatric hospital between appearances.

But he does not seem to have lost his sense of humour.

According to a police officer in court, Dewani shared jokes in the holding cells beneath the high court this week during adjournments of the murder trial.

Kink: taboo or not taboo

The first time I visited a swingers’ club was quite late in my life, a mere five years ago. The idea of these fetishes that I had?–?desires of orgies, bondage, homosexual sex, toys?–?were until then forbidden, unmentionable, immoral.

To publicly acknowledge these desires was tantamount to proclaiming I was not normal and risked being ostracised. But my Tantric therapist recommended that I go clubbing. “Go get the sex out of your system,” she said.

I found various clubs online, registered and was invited for an interview and orientation. Safety is paramount. In a world rife with STDs and sexual abuse, it is of utmost importance that any sex club protect its clientele as best as it can. While the clubs are certainly open to anyone, I had to be vetted and evaluated.

More importantly, I discovered, was that I needed to know the laws of the club.

Within this particular world, for example, the women generally determine who they want to be with.

I couldn’t, as a man, a newbie and my trustworthiness unestablished, just pick and choose potential partners. The playing field was levelled. I was the one waiting to be chosen.

I expected the place to be dingy and despicable. My experience could not have been further from my expectations. The venue was modern and stylish. Everybody was friendly and ordinary.

For all intents and purposes, there was nothing that distinguished this swingers’ club from any of the dance clubs you’d frequent in Joburg’s northern suburbs.

It was perfectly normal – drinking at the bar, chit-chatting with random strangers, dancing, flirting, having fun. In essence, the idea that people who indulge in a kinkier sexual experience are far removed from what is conventional is ludicrous.

In my adventures within the kink lifestyle I have found the levels of trust, respect, and community insanely high. When one is giving oneself over to be dominated or bound, there needs to be a strong element of trust and camaraderie. Dominant partners are often extremely gentle and concerned for their submissives.

And the submissives are equally respectful and trusting of their dominators. While the terms ‘slave’ and ‘master’ are used, the reality is that it’s a relationship of mutual respect and guardianship. Within this world that seems dark and foreign to common society, I feel so much safer and more cared for.

I’ve also discovered that the people who identify as kinky are not a minority. We only seem to be because this is not a topic for polite conversation in mainstream society. This is changing, I believe. Being open about my lifestyle now, I find most people who I engage with more curious than aggressive, more entertained than repulsed, more curious than turned off.

The taboo is slowly wearing off. The truth is that some of the most moral and caring people I know might be called deviants by the general public. Morality isn’t defined by sexual orientation or preference. It’s defined by how one engages with, helps and uplifts their fellow beings.

And you would be hard-pressed to find a fellowship as caring and as respectful as the kink community. –?Jai’prakash, the writer, is a member of the Joburg kink community

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