Nearly Four Years After Murder of Anni Hindocha, Shrien Dewani’s Trial Starts Monday, October 6, 2014
In what has become known as the Honeymoon Murder, Shrien Dewani, a 34-year-old British citizen, will stand trial in the Western Cape High Court, South Africa. Charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice, Dewani’s lawyers had fought a drawn-out legal battle to prevent his extradition from the UK to South Africa. In November, 2010, he and his bride, 28-year-old Anni Hindocha, a Swedish citizen, were honeymooning in Cape Town, staying at the five-star Cape Grace Hotel. Two weeks prior on October 27, the two had been married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Mumbai (Bombay) India. Anni’s family states that a civil ceremony was planned the following March.
No Cameras Allowed in Court
Unlike the Oscar Pistorius trial in Pretoria, Dewani’s trial will not be televised. Personally, I’m disappointed. Gag orders could be issued restricting media commentary (opinions) while at least the public could view the proceedings. But presiding Judge Jeanette Traverso has spoken and I fully and completely respect that decision.
Dewani’s Mental Health, Good Lawyers, Extradition
Extradited in April from the UK to South Africa, Dewani was immediately placed under the care of physicians at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital where he received a 30-day evaluation. I believe the process is similar to the Oscar Pistorius mental health review. Anyway, he was found competent to stand trial and that is what counts.
Also similar to Pistorius, Dewani is rich. His high-powered legal team successfully delayed his extradition for years, arguing that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. Diagnosed with depression and PTSD following Anni’s murder, his lawyers were prepared to take his appeal all the way to the High Court but ultimately a judge ruled that he was fit to stand trial in South Africa.
Following the initial stages of the extradition process, the court had to decide whether there was evidence which would be sufficient to make a case requiring an answer by the person if the proceedings were the summary trial of an information against him. The mere suspicion, reasonably justified, by the South African prosecuting authorities would be sufficient.
And off he went to South Africa upon order of a British judge before his appeal was even heard by the Supreme Court.
The short story is that Shrien Dewani and Anni Hindocha had a troubled relationship. She felt pressured into the marriage which by all accounts was a beautiful and lavish Hindu ceremony. But from the start, Anni felt confused, hurt, off-balance by the rejection and criticism heaped upon her by the very man who was supposed to love her. She confided to loved ones that Shrien was distant, cold and not interested in a sexual relationship with her. He told her his distance was related to infertility issues for which he was receiving “treatment.” Nevertheless, like many women, she took every false promise and lie at face value and tried to make it work. Reluctant to go to South Africa with her groom, she took the advice of her very close cousin and confidante, determined to give her marriage all she had. If it didn’t work out, she’d file for divorce immediately. Anni didn’t make it home alive.
Shrien Dewani stands accused of plotting to hire a hit man to kill his wife. No doubt the prosecution will portray him as a troubled, sexually conflicted man with deep dark secrets. The crime itself is horrific. Colluding with three local accomplices, including the taxi driver, a carjacking and robbery is staged when the driver has taken them spontaneously to a dangerous part of town. Dewani would later claim that Anni insisted on it in order to fully experience Africa, but he appears to have problems telling consistent stories. He denies any involvement with these men who carried out the preplanned “paid-for” robbery and murder of Anni by a bullet which found its way to her neck. Claiming he was pushed out of the taxi after being roughed up, he lost track of the taxi and his wife, whose body was discovered the following day, dead in the back seat of the abandoned taxi.
The taxi driver and the two accomplices who staged the carjacking and robbery have all been tried, found guilty and sentenced. They point to Shrien Dewani as the mastermind. Read here for a more in-depth account of the Anni Hindocha murder.
So now South Africa is burdened with another high-profile trial. Who could ignore the eerie similarities between Dewani and Oscar Pistorius? Two entitled, privileged, rich defendants accused of murdering their partners, albeit in entirely different circumstances.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and how Judge Traverso rules her courtroom.
Anni Hindocha’s murder cries out for justice.