Cape Town 'newlywed killers' in court

By Cahal Milmo

The three suspects in the killing of a honeymooning tourist in South Africa will appear in court tonight (NZ time) amid continuing questions about what happened on the night she was hijacked with her British husband and later killed alone.

Police investigating the death of Anni Dewani said this weekend they are seeking a hotel worker in Cape Town who they believe may be involved in the murder, which has shocked a country inured to bloodshed with its apparently random nature and threatened to damage South Africa's tourist industry.

The killing on 13 November, after the hijacking of the couple's taxi in a township on the edge of the city, has led to feverish speculation about the motive behind the vicious crime.

Mrs Dewani's husband, Shrien, 30, issued a strenuous denial that he is a suspect in the crime.

Publicist Max Clifford, who has been hired by Mr Dewani to deal with the media reports, said that his client was the subject of "foul rumour" and corrected suggestions that he had returned to Cape Town to act as a witness in an identity parade.

Mr Clifford said the businessman was currently under sedation at his home near Bristol and had been told by investigators that he is not a suspect.

The first appearance in court of the three men accused of the murder will be closely watched. Reports say that the driver of the Volkswagen Sharan taxi, Congolese migrant Zola Tongo, 31, has agreed to appear as a state witness against his co-accused.

Police sources in South Africa have said they are investigating whether Tongo was linked to a worker at a "top hotel" in Cape Town.

Amid claims that the detectives leading the investigation into the murder have been replaced, a Cape Town police spokesman refused to discuss the allegations yesterday. Andre Traut said: "We have no comment to make about this claim or any other. It would be wrong for us to speak publicly while the court hearings are taking place."

Miss Dewani, 28, was found with a fatal neck wound in the abandoned Volkswagen in the Gugulethu shanty town after she and her husband had eaten dinner at a renowned restaurant in a Cape Town suburb.

The shooting shattered what had been the beginning of a new life for the couple. They had married in a lavish ceremony in Mumbai and Swedish-born Miss Dewani had planned to live in the West Country with her new husband, who runs a group of nursing homes.

Although the company has ongoing debts of £4.1m, auditors have said there is "absolutely no cause" for concern about its trading position.

In the aftermath of the attack at around 11pm on 13 November, Mr Dewani described how two men had approached the taxi at traffic lights and demanded valuables, including a £2,000 watch and mobile phones, before dragging him out of the window of the stationary vehicle.

After the businessman raised the alarm by banging on doors in the shantytown, which is notorious for its high crime rate, a police helicopter located the Volkswagen with Miss Dewani's body on the back seat.

Mr Dewani said last week: "Anni was the one. Why would I want to kill her? Anni wasn't on any life insurance policies and we hadn't even made a will. I had no motive, financial or otherwise. I loved her and still love her."

His lawyer described as "completely false" suggestions that there was hostility between the couple following a report in a Sunday newspaper that Mrs Dewani had been tearful and refused to sit beside her husband on the flight to South Africa.

Mr Clifford said: "This man is utterly devastated. He has gone from groom to widower in the space of a fortnight, has been hijacked, had a gun pointed to his head and his wife murdered. Now he is the subject of constant rumours and lies. He is understandably upset about what has been happening."

- INDEPENDENT

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