Tragic Indo-Swedish honeymoon bride Anni Dewani was shot dead “by accident”, lawyers for her husband, who is accused of orchestrating her murder, claimed in a South African court today.
Francois van Zyl, counsel of Bristol-born British Indian care home owner Shrien Dewani, was questioning a South African man who has already been convicted of Anni’s murder during Mr Dewani’s trial at the Cape Town High Court on Monday.
Mr van Zyl said that Maziwamadoda Qwabe had accidentally shot dead Anni Dewani after trying to rape her.
It was the first claim made by Mr Dewani’s defence team against the prosecution’s charge that the 34-year-old masterminded the killing to get out of his marriage to Anni because he was secretly gay.
On the first day of the trial, Mr Dewani admitted to being bisexual but has denied hiring a hitman to kill his wife.
Anni Dewani was killed after the tax the couple were travelling was hijacked at gunpoint inside the Gugulethu township in Cape Town in November 2012.
Mr Dewani was released soon after whilst Anni was taken hostage before being shot dead.The lawyer further supported his claim by pointing to the numerous bruises found on Anni’s body, which he suggested was evidence that there had been a struggle before the single shot that entered her neck and severed her spine.
Mr van Zyl also said that Mr Dewnai had been released because the carjackers realized that he was wealthy and could pay a potential ransom later on.
Qwabe has maintained that he ‘executed’ Mrs Dewani after he and his accomplice Xolile Mngeni were paid £1300 by Shrien Dewanil.
He also denied suggestions by Mr van Zyl that he intended to demand a ransom for Anni, saying that he had been told before the carjacking that “there was a husband who wanted his wife dead”.
“The objective was achieved,” he said.
Both Qwabe and Mngeni are serving 25-year jail terms for their roles in Anni Dewani’s murder.
Qwabe’s testimony is the latest explosive claims to emerge since Mr Dewani’s trial began 06 October.
The court was also told that Mr Dewani visited a gay dating website named Gaydar the day after his wife’s murder.
Dewani has admitted having sex with male prostitutes and men he has met online and in clubs, although he told his trial that he is also attracted to women and loved his wife.
A representative for Gaydar also said that Dewani had been a member since 2004 and went by the name ‘Asiansubguy’.
Yesterday, the Mail on Sunday claimed to have seen a witness statement by Anni Dewani’s cousin Sneha Hindocha which quotes her as saying that Anni had been upset because Shrien “refused to have sex” during the couple’s honeymoon in South Africa.
Ms Hindocha also claims that Anni believed the wedding to be a sham.
The witness statement is expected to be one of the key elements of the prosecution’s case.
Anni Dewani (Left) with her cousin Sneha Hindocha
The statement also reportedly adds that Anni would never have agreed to visit Gugulethu during her honeymoon, and, in particular, during the middle of the night and that the couple had been “acting” all the way through their wedding.
Sneha’s statement continues that Shrien had refused to be intimate with Anni citing exhaustion from treatment he was receiving for apparent infertility, a claim that had, at one point, prompted Anni to temporarily break off the couple’s engagement because she was keen on having children.
The couple got back together in early 2010 after Shrien assured Anni that the treatment had been a success.
Sneha also claims that Anni had told she “didn’t want to go to South Africa or anywhere else with Shrien” and that she wanted a divorce.Mr Dewani denies murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice.
The trial continues.