Shrien holds the key - Anni's family

2012-12-05 22:19
Vinod and Anish Hindocha (Picture: Sapa)

Vinod and Anish Hindocha (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - The circumstances surrounding the murder of tourist Anni Dewani will be revealed only when her husband Shrien stands trial, her father said on Wednesday.

"The story of my innocent daughter still remains incomplete. The full picture will only emerge when Shrien comes down to Cape Town and faces the trial and extradition that he has," Vinod Hindocha said on the stairs of the Western Cape High Court.

"Me and my wife, we have not slept a full night since Anni left us and Shrien holds the key to that... We need all the questions answered so that we can move on with our lives. It's hard without Anni."

On Wednesday, Hindocha and his son Anish sat in the courtroom where the Xolile Mngeni, 25, the man who shot Anni, was sentenced to life in prison.

Hindocha said he had flown in straight from Shrien Dewani's hearing in the United Kingdom to look in Mngeni's eyes during sentencing.

Dewani, 28, was killed in an allegedly faked hijacking on 13 November 2010, while on honeymoon with her husband. Her slumped body was found the next day on the backseat of the car.

British businessman Shrien Dewani, 32, who is accused of organising the hit on his wife, is in the process of being extradited from the UK to stand trial in Cape Town.

National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the full extradition hearing was set down for 1 July to 5 July in the Westminster Magistrate's Court.

Shrien Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations, and is undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Zola Tongo and Mziwamadoda Qwabe are serving 18 years and 25 years respectively for their roles in the crime, under a plea and sentencing agreement.

The hotel receptionist who acted as the middleman in the supposed contract killing was released from prosecution because the court found his testimony in Mngeni's trial sufficient.

Besides life imprisonment, Mngeni was sentenced to 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. These terms would run concurrently.

He would be eligible for parole only in 25 years.

Absolute arrogance

Judge Robert Henney said Mngeni had come across as a merciless and evil person who consistently showed no remorse.

He went shopping for branded clothing mere hours after the murder, lied to the court, wasted time with a protracted trial and had maintained his innocence throughout despite overwhelming evidence.

"The deceased in this matter did not suspect anything untoward when taken into Gugulethu to be callously slaughtered.

"She was totally defenceless and left to the mercy of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and the accused to be killed, after she was abandoned by her husband," he said.

"It's difficult to imagine the absolute terror and horror she must have endured when she stared down the barrel of the gun... It was an act of shameless cowardice when the accused shot her at point-blank range."

Mngeni had hoped to come away with a lighter sentence because of his rare brain tumour which was diagnosed last May.

In May this year, there was no sign of the tumour after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The court heard that should it return, Mngeni would probably have only two to five years to live.

Henney said that in a constitutional democracy, the court should not lose sight of the element of mercy, based on human dignity.

However, his medical condition in the case of a contract killing was not a substantial and compelling circumstance to deviate from the minimum sentence for premeditated murder.

"Our courts here and elsewhere have said that mere ill health of a person who committed a serious offence cannot be regarded as a get-out-of-jail ticket."

The court had kept in mind the brutality of the crime, the "absolute arrogance and heartlessness" of Mngeni, the suffering of the Hindocha family, the message to other potential criminals and the country's tarnished image.

"The perception is easily created that in this country, one can randomly, at a price, approach any person and such a person, without hesitation, would agree to commit such a murder," Henney said.

"I want to send home the message that the life of a human being at whatever cost is not cheap, no matter what the circumstances may be."

- SAPA
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