Ritz & romance in City of Lights


It wasn’t exactly love at first sight when Anni Hindocha and Shrien Dewani met in London in September last year.

“I don’t like him. His teeth are like a rabbit,’’ Anni told her “papa” on the phone. “And I don’t like his clothes but I suppose one can do something about that.”

All the same the following day the pretty young engineer went to dinner at a fancy restaurant with Shrien (30), co-owner of a series of care homes for the elderly in Britain, and slowly but surely Anni (28) warmed to him.

Theirs was a fairytale romance, complete with a dream engagement and wedding. After deciding earlier this year that Anni was the woman for him Shrien called in the help of Sneha Hindocha (27), ­Anni’s cousin and best friend since childhood.

It had to be the surprise of a lifetime, a story their grandchildren would demand to hear over and over again one day.

They would get engaged in Paris, he decided, and Anni was to know nothing about it. He would fly her to the City of Lights in a private jet.

“Shrien wanted her to have a new dress and shoes so he and I went to Selfridges [department store] to buy them,” Sneha says.

“We found her a cute black Karen Millen dress and a pair of Christian Dior shoes.

“Shrien made sure her favourite chocolates and chips, champagne and red roses were waiting for her in the jet.

“When they arrived at the Ritz Hotel in Paris he had the dress and shoes laid out on the bed and arranged for her to have her hair done.

“Then they had dinner and the ring arrived on a silver tray.”

This is the man who was recently arrested in England after claims were made in a Cape Town court that he’d masterminded the murder of his bride of two weeks.

“I don’t know what to believe,” Anni’s devastated father, Vinod Hindocha (62), says. “Maybe I don’t want to know. What happened to my daughter was vicious and inhuman.”

His voice is soft as he opens SMSes on his phone. There are several, each with the same words: “Love you Papa!”

His face is tired and defeated, his eyes are dull, and occasionally they fill with tears as he talks about his beautiful daughter who will never again call him in the evenings.

It’s two days since the trial of taxi driver Zola Tongo, who was found guilt of Anni’s murder, two days since Vinod found out his son-in-law has been accused of promising two hitmen R15 000 to kill her in a staged hijacking.

Shrien was held in custody for several days before being released on bail and has appeared in a British court. Now it must be determined whether Shrien – who is represented by a team of some of the best legal minds in London – will be extradited to South Africa.

The court there heard he had previously tried to arrange a killing in South Africa and also that he’d been captured on Cape Town CCTV footage handing money to Tongo days after Anni’s murder.

Don't miss YOU's picture scoop of the the lavish engagement in the issue of 23 December 2010.

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