Shrien Dewani stays behind bars

2010-12-08 22:40

Johannesburg - The British newly-wed accused of paying to have his bride killed on their honeymoon will be held in jail after an appeal was lodged against the granting of £250 000 bail, the United Kingdom Press Association reported on Wednesday.

Shrien Dewani, who was arrested on Tuesday on a South African extradition warrant, was initially granted bail when he appeared at City of Westminster Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. 

But the South African authorities lodged an immediate appeal, which means the businessman from Bristol will be held in custody pending a High Court hearing.

Dewani, whose wife was shot dead last month when they visited Gugulethu, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiring to murder her.

He appeared in the dock of the packed court room wearing a maroon hooded sweater. He spoke only to confirm his name, age and date of birth.

The 30-year-old businessman was fingered by taxi driver Zola Tongo in terms of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment for kidnapping, murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice.

Ben Watson, representing South African authorities, opposed bail and told District Judge Howard Riddle that he may appeal after Dewani's bail was initially granted.

Strict bail conditions

The court was told that he had until 17:50 to lodge the appropriate documents and if he did so, Dewani would be held in custody.

One member of Dewani's legal team, Julian Knowles, said he would then appear at the High Court for a further hearing.

That would probably not be until Thursday at the earliest.

Riddle said Dewani could be released on bail subject to a string of strict conditions, including a £250 000 surety and that he wore an electronic tag.

He was also ordered to surrender his passport, live at the family home in Bristol and observe a curfew.

He must also report at his local police station every evening and not apply for any international travel documents.

Riddle said there was a "stark" difference between the competing prosecution and defence version of events.

He said: "Either Mr Dewani over a period of time plotted the murder of his wife or he is one of the tragic victims of these circumstances."

Accused by robbers

The judge said the "succinct and strong" points made by Montgomery highlighted how Dewani could be acquitted at trial in South Africa.

He added that Dewani has the "strongest possible" community ties and his father and brother had offered sureties on his behalf.

Clare Montgomery QC, representing Dewani, said her client was accused by a group of self-confessed robbers and murderers desperate to escape a life sentence.

She branded the case against him as "flimsy" and suggested it was cooked up to defend the reputation of South Africa as a tourist destination.

Montgomery said the murder would "seriously damage the reputation of South Africa if it were merely the work of a local gang" and a story was put together to "put blame on someone else".

She said: "It is clear that what has happened has been devastating, a nightmare for him to lose his wife and now to be subject of these allegations.

"But he is personally willing to deal with these allegations and in my submission he is reasonably confident they come from men with nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Could not have arranged it

Montgomery said there was no evidence her client had travelled to South Africa before so he could not have arranged another deadly hijacking.

She added that financial records showed he only had enough money to pay the gang the money they wanted if he spent nothing at all during three days on a luxury honeymoon. 

Members of both Dewani and his late wife's family were in court for the hearing.

Speaking outside court on Wednesday, members of Anni's family said they wanted "justice for Anni".

The relatives, including female women cousins, appeared shaken after hearing details of the case.

Asked if Dewani should return to South Africa, one man said: "I would say he needs to go. That is all I would say."

Another family member added as they pushed through a scrum of media, "Nothing will bring our daughter back."

  • cheryl.vanderpost - 2010-12-08 23:07

    I think there is a lot more to this whole story and there is a lot that still needs to come out. One thing I do know is that accusing the husband has nothing to do with South Africa protecting its image... Any South African will look at the facts and say "hmm... that's a little strange". It is not common for hijackers to throw out the man (without a bruise) and then when they have the women alone - not to rape her. Crime in this country is violent, its a sad truth... but in this case its a truth that tells us that this is not just a random crime. I only hope that the whole truth gets revealed in this case so that people, world wide and in South Africa, will see that our justice system can work and so that people, world wide, will know that it is not about South Africa's image but rather about the truth.

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