Dewani hires private plane for trip to SA

MURDER accused Shrien Dewani was due to arrive in South Africa at 8am today – an hour earlier than expected – after taking a private charter from the UK to Cape Town to sneak past waiting media.

Dewani – who will today be formally charged following the November 2010 murder of his wife, Anni Hindocha, while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town – was expected to be on British Airways flight BA0059 from London’s Heathrow Airport, landing at Cape Town International at 9.30am. But there was no sign of him at the boarding gates all day, sparking rumours about his whereabouts.

A British Home Office official confirmed 15 minutes before his expected departure time that Dewani had already left. British Metropolitan Police said he had been taken to the Bristol Airport by officers from the service’s extradition unit.

They were met there by South African authorities, who escorted him to Cape Town. The flight left at 8pm.

The Hindochas said in London yesterday they were desperate for answers. The family was under severe strain, Anish Hindocha, Anni’s younger brother, said.

He often lay awake at night trying to piece together what had happened to his sister that November night, he said. “We need justice for Anni. That i’s the only thing we have on our minds and we hope to get it soon.”

He broke down and was comforted by his uncle, Ashok, as he spoke about the toll the murder had taken on the family.

“Things are not good. I have trouble sleeping, and I know my dad can’t sleep. I call him at 3am, 4am, because I know he’s still awake. It’s very tough for him. And my mom has no daughter now. I always thought that time heals, but it doesn’t. We will think about it all the time,” he said.

Despite the trial not starting immediately after Dewani’s arrival, Ashok said the family was relieved the case was finally moving forward after years of delays.

“We are confident that there will now be some kind of a trial.

“We need it. South Africa needs it. The world needs it. Everyone wants to know what happened to Anni,” he said.

“There were five people in the car that night – one girl, four men. Three men are in jail, the girl was shot in the neck.

“One person hasn’t answered the question: ‘What happened in that car that night?’

All is ready meanwhile for Dewani’s first appearance in the Cape Town High Court today.

Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said police would escort Dewani direct to the court from the airport.

“In view of his peculiar medical condition, Mr Dewani will be accompanied by a medical doctor, a nurse and members of the SA Police Service,” Mhaga said.

“This is informed by the fact that he is currently a patient and suspect who is in police custody and might need medical assistance en route to this country.”

No pictures or filming of Dewani would be allowed in the courtroom because of his fragile health. “Of importance is our desire to comply with an undertaking the South African government made to the English High Court that Mr Dewani is to be treated both as a suspect and patient until the court has ruled on his fitness to stand trial.”

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who turned state witness, said Dewani had offered him R15 000 to find hitmen to kill his wife. Tongo recruited two men for the hit.

Dewani has maintained his innocence and has been entangled in a protracted extradition war. – Matthew Savides. Additional reporting by Philani Nombembe