Dewani charter flight 'cost taxpayer millions'

2014-04-08 14:47
The van carrying Shrien Dewani drives through the city streets to the Western Cape High Court. (Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)

The van carrying Shrien Dewani drives through the city streets to the Western Cape High Court. (Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)

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Cape Town - Bringing honeymoon murder-accused Shrien Dewani to Cape Town to face trial has likely cost taxpayers millions of rands in flight costs.

Dewani arrived at Cape Town International Airport shortly after 09:00 on Tuesday morning in a private jet chartered by the justice department.

"He has been transported by a chartered plane from Bristol Airport in the United Kingdom to South Africa. The department of justice procured the chartered plane," spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said in a statement.

According to an aviation industry charter manager, who declined to be named, chartering a jet for the about 10 000km flight would have "cost millions of rands".

The basic costs of chartering such flights typically cost between R50 and R70 a kilometre, depending on the type of aircraft used. On top of this there were other expenses, including overflight fees and refuelling costs.

Asked on Tuesday if he could say what the cost of the charter had been, Mhaga responded: "Not at this stage."

Govt 'did not want to take chances'

In his earlier statement, he said among the reasons for using a private aircraft was that Dewani had previously shown suicidal tendencies.

"We took into account the fact that there was undisputed evidence during [the] extradition hearing that he had displayed suicidal tendencies and the South African government did not want to take chances.

"His peculiar medical condition needed to be monitored and the situation on a commercial fight had the potential to compromise it and that would have [an] adverse effect on the pending medical examination in a bid to get him to recover."

Mhaga said there was a need to ensure that Dewani and the team he travelled with -including doctors, nurses and police - were secure.

"That would have been difficult on a commercial flight with many passengers. [It] had [the] potential to compromise their security as his identity is now well-known," he said.

"It was therefore paramount that his return to the country is hazard-free in order to ensure that he eventually makes the court appearance without hindrance."

Dewani's case was postponed in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday. He is expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and defeating the ends of justice.

Dewani claimed he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010.

The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. Dewani was set free unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

Xolile Mngeni was convicted of the murder and jailed for life. Prosecutors allege Dewani hired him to kill his wife.

Two other alleged accomplices are also already serving jail terms in connection with the crimes. Dewani has denied any part in the murder.


- SAPA

Read more on:    anni dewani  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  crime  |  honeymoon hijacking
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