Dewani claims SA cops 'setting him up'

2010-11-25 14:29
Cape Town - The South African police on Thursday refused to comment on apparent claims by the husband of murdered tourist Anni Dewani that he is being “set up” by them.

UK newspaper The Daily Mail quoted sources close to Shrien Dewani, 31, as saying that South African investigators are trying to pin the murder of his wife on him instead of a local as it would look better for the country.

But several attempts by News24 to get comment from South African Police Force members on the matter were unsuccessful.

“We cannot make anymore comments regarding this (investigation) until the court case,” Western Cape police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk told News24. 

Shrien Dewani has also hired top South African divorce and criminal attorney Billy Gundelfinger and UK publicist Max Clifford.

'Mass murder in SA'

The British newspaper quoted sources close to Shrien Dewwani as saying that the businessman was in an “absolutely dreadful state” about returning to Cape Town to identify the robbers who shot dead his wife on their honeymoon.

One friend told the newspaper: “We are just increasingly conscious that there are some people who are definitely trying to set him up.

“It suits them because an English guy who has done this would be much less damaging to South Africa than if one of their own had done it.

“They’re all corrupt. They are all taking bribes. There is mass murder everywhere, and every time one of these guys gets caught, they try to say anything to reduce their sentence. That’s how the system is.

“The police are whispering furiously to the South African media. We understand what’s going on. There’s a lot at stake.

“Let’s see what proof they come up with.”

Another person close to Dewani added: “The fear is that the police are looking for a hook to hang this on in order to protect tourism because there are British citizens involved.

“If they can muddy the waters with allegations that it was something more than a robbery, that works for them.”

Contradicting statements

But the millionaire home care owner has in the days since the murder made contradicting statements regarding what exactly happened.

Anni, 28, was shot after she and her husband of just two weeks were hijacked in Gugulethu, outside Cape Town.

Shrien initially told Britain’s The Sun tabloid that the couple went into the township because Anni wanted to see the "real Africa".

Days later he told the same tabloid that it was the driver who advised them to go and see some “African dancing” in Gugulethu.

He also told the Mail a few days after the attack that it happened three minutes after leaving the highway but then The Sun reported him as saying that they had earlier been driven to a restaurant in Gugulethu, presumably Mzoli’s.

However, Mzoli’s closes at 19:00 and the Dewanis had driven into the township at 23:00 after going to a restaurant in Somerset West.

The Daily Mail quoted Clifford as saying that the couple decided to go into Gugulethu after Anni spoke about plans to go dancing back in Britain, and their driver overheard and suggested he take them to a place where they could see African dancing.

The husband also initially said he was “dumped through the back of the passenger window as the car was moving”. But he told The Sun: “They couldn’t get me out because the child locks were activated, so they ended up dragging me struggling and screaming out of the window.”

Getting medical attention

Three people have been arrested for the murder, including the driver of the car, Zola Tongo.

Gundelfinger was quoted by the Mail as saying: “Mr Dewani is fully co-operating with the police. He left the country with the police's permission. He has nothing to hide.

“This was quite simply a criminal act to rob the Dewanis. Nothing more. Any insinuation that he was involved is absolutely scurrilous.

“I spent the whole of Monday with Mr Dewani in the UK and I can tell you that he is absolutely devastated. He broke down twice during our conversation.’

The lawyer refused to discuss the matter further as he said the case was under investigation.

In a statement issued through Clifford, Shrien’s brother, Preyen Dewani, said: “As you can imagine he has been severely traumatised by the country and the specific threats that he too may be a target in the South African press.

“He is currently receiving medical assistance to help deal with the trauma. The family are in constant contact with the police and are fully co-operating with their investigation.”

Frustrated father

Anni’s Swedish father Vimod Hindocha says he is frustrated with the “inconsistencies” in the inquiry into his daughter’s death.

Speaking to The Daily Mail on Wednesday, Hindocha, 61, said: “My mind is in turmoil. I am in despair. I have spoken with my son-in-law but there are far more questions than answers.”

Hindocha  said he is “not happy” with lack of detail given to him about the investigation by the SA police as well as his son-in-law’s differing statements about what happened on the fateful night.

Asked if he thought Shrien was involved in Anni’s murder, Hindocha replied: “No comment.”

Although police have publicly declared Mr Dewani is not a suspect, unnamed sources have apparently said he does merit further attention.

In Anni’s home town of Mariestad - a four-hour drive from Stockholm - her uncle Ashok, said: “We cannot include or exclude anybody or anything while the investigation is ongoing. We place our trust in the South African police and the Swedish government at this time.”

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