Dewani was neat after hijacking: policeman

By Drum Digital
21 October 2014

Shrien Dewani looked neat moments after being kicked out of a hijacked shuttle taxi he and his wife Anni were travelling in.

British businessman Shrien Dewani looked neat moments after being kicked out of a hijacked shuttle taxi he and his wife Anni were travelling in, a policeman told the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

Sergeant Cornelius Mellet, the State's ninth witness, was on duty at the Harare police station in Khayelitsha when the hijacking took place in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010.

Prosecutor Adrian Mopp asked what Dewani looked like when he entered the police station. "He was dressed very neatly, his clothes were clean. His appearance was clean and I couldn't see with my experience in Khayelitsha that the concerned person was involved in a robbery without a struggle having taken place," Mellet replied. He said Dewani appeared emotional while talking to the officers and asked repeatedly for someone to take him back to the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, which Mellet eventually did.

"I did not know the reason why he wanted to go back to the hotel so urgently," he said.

He extracted information from Dewani during the drive and seemed to think that the tourist did not seem as worried as he would have been had his wife disappeared.

"It was strange to me that Mr Dewani did not require or ask from me what are the police doing within their powers to get hold of his wife," Mellet said.

"Also the fact that he appeared very tense and nervous. I started to feel sorry for him and I just switched on the aircon because he was sweating and he was very nervous."

Dewani is accused of the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking on November 13, 2010.

The State alleges that he conspired with others to stage the hijacking in return for R15,000.

Her slumped body was found in the abandoned shuttle taxi in Khayelitsha the following day.

During cross-examination, Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl said it was opinion that Mellet had slipped in the information about his client's demeanour to create a certain atmosphere or suspicion.

Mellet replied that was not his intention.

The lawyer asked him if his client had been crying at the time and Mellet said he had been. He had also looked traumatised, the officer added.

Van Zyl said his client had been threatened with a pistol shortly before his conversations with police.

He asked whether Mellet had expected Dewani to be in a struggle and the officer replied yes, as he had often seen this since he was first stationed in the area in 2004.

"I would say nine times out 10, people who are being robbed, whether it is with a knife, firearm or a hijacking... that the skollies in that town injure everybody, whether it be a hijack or only R20 from this person," Mellet said.

Van Zyl said the officer had started off with "nine times out of 10" and ended with "everybody". The officer said he was referring to the 90 percent.

He was asked how regularly tourists were robbed or hijacked in that area, and the officer replied that he knew of quite a few cases.

"It happens a lot, [that] tourists on taxis are robbed. I wouldn't say they are using the same modus operandi but the robbers would stop the driver and get into the vehicle."

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