Anew job, a loving marriage and a new life in England. That is what Swedish beauty Anni Dewani was looking forward to when she met the man of her dreams, Shrien Dewani.
A month ago the trained engineer – who excelled in badminton and softball while still at school in Mariestad, a four-hour drive from Stockholm – was living a fairytale.
Cut short in her prime in a hijacking allegedly organised by her husband, Anni “was exploding with life in her last days”, her sister, Ami Denborg, told City Press on Friday.
“She was filled with positive energy. Although we will never have her back, this is the memory we will carry of her,” said Denborg.
Anni’s broken parents, Vinod and Ami Hindocha, remember their sporty daughter’s excitement during the past 18 months since she met Shrien.
Everything was falling into place for the 28-year-old Anni.
As an intelligent and confident 18-year-old, she finished school and left her parents’ home in Mariestad to study electronics at the University of Gävle in northern Sweden.
She continued her studies at Halmstad University in southern Sweden before moving to Stockholm, where she worked as an engineer at mobile phone company Ericsson’s headquarters.
Frequently visiting her cousin Sneha Hindocha in the UK, Anni met her future husband there through mutual friends. It was love at first sight and over the next year-and-a-half the couple become inseparable, according to her family. Shrien also regularly visited the Hindocha family in Sweden.
Then, in February this year, Ericsson laid off 130 people and Anni excitedly moved to Luton in England to be near Shrien and start a new life.
The couple got along so well that the Hindochas were not surprised when Anni and Shrien became engaged around Easter this year.
Anni’s engineer father, Vinod, previously told the Daily Mail in London that the Hindochas did not meet Shrien’s parents before the engagement as Anni wanted “to be sure”.
Anni’s parents have their roots in India. The bride-to-be started planning a lavish traditional Hindu ceremony to be held in October in Mumbai, and a wedding ceremony to be held in Mariestad early next year.
According to the Hindochas, everything was perfect.
Anni spent two months in Mumbai preparing for the traditional ceremony, and the happy couple left for India on October 12.
The ceremony took place at Hotel Renaissance on the edge of Powi Lake on the city’s outskirts, with more than 200 family and guests attending the three-day ceremony.
According to the Hindochas, everyone got on very well. The Hindochas stayed in Mumbai after the ceremony to celebrate Diwali, while the Dewanis travelled back to England.
The 30-year-old English businessman, Shrien, then surprised Anni with a trip to South Africa.
Anni’s sister, Ami Denborg, said she was overjoyed.
Anni accompanied the Dewanis back to the UK before flying off to South Africa to start her honeymoon. The couple first travelled to a lodge outside the Kruger National Park before they again flew to Cape Town the day before Anni was murdered.
“She promised to call home as soon as she got back again,” Denborg said.
Anni’s last days are shrouded in mystery. Vinod Hindocha last week told the Daily Mail that an air hostess noticed that the couple were sitting separately on the flight and that Anni was crying.
The air hostess apparently asked Anni if she would like to sit with Shrien, but Anni said “no”.
When news broke of Anni’s murder, her family and friends in Mariestad were devastated. More than 400 people attended a memorial service.
Since then, speculation as to the motive for her murder has been rife.
After Shrien’s arrest this week, Anni’s cousin, Ashok Hindocha, said: “We have so many questions about what happened that night, but now we have even more. We have not been able to take the first knock before the next one came.”
Anni’s father previously said because the family is part of the Lohana caste, dowries do not exist in their culture.
The traditional “wedding” the couple had in India is also not registered as a legal wedding.
A close family friend of the Hindochas told City Press that Shrien “has a temper that can flair up unexpectedly.
One second you can talk to him and everything is fine; the next moment he is angry as hell.”
Anni’s father again made a plea for Shrien to return to South Africa to prove his innocence.
He said: “We want justice; that is the most important thing now.
“My advice is that he come here. I will hold his hand if he comes and he tells me what happened.”