Key Dewani trial witness takes own life

2016-11-09 13:25
Shrien Dewani in court. (AP)

Shrien Dewani in court. (AP)

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Cape Town - The gay male escort who was a key witness in the Anni Hindocha Dewani honeymoon murder trial recently committed suicide, apparently because of stress over the case, it has been reported.

Leopold Leisser, who went by the name of The German Master, testified during the trial of Shrien Dewani, who was accused of masterminding his wife Anni’s murder while the UK-based couple were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November six years ago.

The case was reported on in several countries and Leisser’s sensational testimony about his relationship with Dewani, who later said he was bisexual, made headline news.


On Wednesday, the UK publication, the Daily Mail, reported that Leisser had been found dead in his Birmingham flat on September 13.

It said an inquest had heard that Dewani’s 2014 trial in Cape Town had stressed Leisser and that he had hanged himself.

Another UK publication, the Mirror, quoted Elisabeth Bussey-Jones, coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, as saying: "There was evidence that Mr Leisser had been stressed, but no signs that he wanted help. My condolences go out to his family for such a tragic loss."

A local source who was close to the investigation into Anni's murder at the time, on Wednesday described what had happened as "sad".

Anni’s body, with a single gunshot wound, was found in the back of an abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha on November 13, 2010.

Dewani, who has since been acquitted of his role in the murder, had said that Anni was killed during a botched hijacking.

During his trial in the Western Cape High Court two years ago, Leisser was called to the witness stand to testify about his relationship with Dewani.

News24 previously reported that Leisser testified that he and Dewani had met three times in 2009 and 2010, and that Dewani was the first of his clients to sleep over at his house.

They had kept in contact via gay dating website Gaydar.

Leisser testified that when he saw and recognised Dewani on a news broadcast about his arrest, he contacted the police in England.

Newspaper interview

A journalist from UK publication The Sun later interviewed him and he was paid £18 000 for speaking out.

After stories quoting Leisser were published, he said he had to "shut down my profession for a while".

Dewani was acquitted in December 2014 due to insufficient evidence, following an intense extradition battle to get him to leave the UK and return to Cape Town.

He was accused of offering three local men -  Zola Tongo, Mziwmadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni - R15 000 to have Anni murdered.

Shortly after the killing, Tongo entered into a plea and sentencing agreement and was sentenced to an effective 18 years in jail.

Qwabe entered into a plea bargain in August 2012 and was sentenced to an effective 25 years in jail, while Mngeni died in prison from a brain tumour in prison in October 2014.

Read more on:    shrien dewani  |  uk  |  dewani trial

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