In November 2010, Anni Dewani was murdered while on honeymoon in South Africa. The crime appeared to be a carjacking, but the taxi driver who was chauffering her and her new husband had a different tale to tell. But does it have the ring of truth?
Not to be confused with The Honey Trap Murder, the Panorama documentary The Honeymoon Murder is currently on iplayer for those who can receive it. This nearly hour long programme sees the well known BBC face Jeremy Vine flying off to South Africa where he once served as a foreign correspondent. His mission this time is to investigate the circumstances and allegations surrounding this routine/bizarre murder.
With exclusive access to publicly unseen CCTV footage, he and his team examine in detail the hours leading up to the death of Anni Dewani while on honeymoon in Cape Town. The Dewani family declined to take part in this programme, but the family of the victim did. Although an Asian Hindu, Anni Hindocha was born in Sweden into a wealthy family, and naturally like the rest of her kin was fluent in the lingua franca of the known universe, English.
She and her future husband Shrien Dewani were a dream couple, and this was a dream wedding. The ceremony took place in Mumbai, lasted 3 days and cost £150,000. Later, they flew off to South Africa where they checked into the expensive Cape Grace Hotel. But she would never leave South Africa alive, one night while out sightseeing, their taxi was hijacked, her husband escaped, but she was shot dead.
Extremely tragic, but a straightforward murder as happens in a country that although long a playground for the wealthy has a dark underside, and one of the highest murder rates in the world. Or maybe it was not so straightforward, because no sooner had Srien Dewani returned to Britain with his wife's body than their taxi driver, Zola Robert Tongo, was arrested, and he told a bizarre story indeed.
The bottom line is that he was asked by Srien Dewani to arrange his wife's murder and to make it look like a botched carjacking. He did this apparently within an hour of meeting him. Is this story credible?
Obviously not, especially when one considers the relatively small sums of money that were to change hands, but many stories that appear to be less than credible turn out to be true. Is it credible that a serving President would unzip his fly for an intern in the Oval Office where she would perform oral sex on him, and that her semen stained dress would later be handed over to the FBI, subjected to a forensic examination, and used in an impeachment investigation?
Jeremy Vine and his team have found or been given access to evidence that raises serious questions about the claims made against Srien Dewani, the most compelling appears to be the report of the autopsy on Anni Dewani which suggests that rather than being executed, she was killed accidentally.
Tongo claims to have received R1,000, about £90, yet he was earning good money as a taxi driver, but in May 2008, a 15 year old London youth carried out a contract killing on a young woman for a mere £200. That is nearly as unbelievable.
Srien Dewani's family and supporters believe the South African authorities have taken these claims seriously for pragmatic reasons, they fear if the murder is blamed solely on native South Africans, it will be bad for business. While that claim is difficult to credit, the claim that confessions have been extracted or enticed from others involved in the conspiracy are not. Under Apartheid, the South African police were notorious, and for those at the bottom of the pyramid, only the management has changed.
Unsurprisingly, there have also been rumours about Srien Dewani, including that he is bi-sexual or even homosexual; these rumours are supported by witnesses, but it remains to be seen how credible any of them are, especially as nobody seems to have noticed the striking parallels between this real life case and a plot in the BBC soap EastEndersin which Pakistani Moslem Syed Masood marries the lovely Amira after his mother has discovered he has been doing things no good Moslem should ever do with the local butch queen, although there was no contract killing involved in this fictional and particularly sordid love triangle.
It has now been well over a year since the murder of Anni Dewani, where has her widower been in the meantime? Attempts have been made to extradite him, but he was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act, having apparently attempted suicide.
One thing that was not mentioned in this programme and which no one appears to be able to provide is a rational motive for Dewani to kill his new wife. Clearly it was no financial, so what could it be?
It has to be said that if Srien Dewani did order her murder, he deserves an Oscar for his performance since, but today the High Court has ruled that he should be extradited as soon as he is fit to stand trial, saying that it is in the interests of justice that he does so. Whatever doubts the Panorama team have cast on his guilt, it is difficult for any dispassionate observer to take issue with that judgment.