British businessman Shrien Dewani on Monday explained his version of how he and his wife Anni were hijacked while driving back to Cape Town after a dinner.
In a plea explanation handed to the Western Cape High Court and read out by his lawyer Francois van Zyl, Dewani said his description was based on what he could remember from November 2010.
“As a consequence of the traumatic experience which resulted in the loss of my wife, I have been hospitalised for over three years and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This, and the resultant flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety attacks, have affected my memory and impacted on my ability to precisely and chronologically recall events concerning the terrible incident. Nevertheless, I will set out the facts as I recall them today.”
He said he and Anni were chatting about possible nightlife and their taxi exited the highway towards a place starting with a ‘G’, presumably referring to Gugulethu.
He heard banging noises coming from the front and right-hand side of the car, and loud shouting in a language he did not understand.
Someone next to him told him to lie down.
“This person had a gun in his hand; I cannot recall which hand. He was waving the gun in the air. He shouted ‘Look down! Lie down!’. We were both terrified and we immediately complied with the demands.”
Dewani said he lay half on top of Anni and pleaded for them to be allowed to go.
He remembered his watch being taken off and the gun-wielding person taking his money. He hid his phone in his pants pocket.
He said Anni whispered to him in Gujarati that she was hiding her wedding rings between the car seats.
The man with the gun asked if he had a phone, found it in his pants and got angry.
He threatened to shoot Dewani if he lied again and Dewani explained that he was scared because he had never been close to a real gun before.
The vehicle stopped momentarily and then sped off again. He noticed the driver wore yellow gloves.
Anni screamed and they instructed Dewani to keep her quiet.
“The driver said that they were not going to hurt us. They just wanted the car and they were going to let us go separately. I begged them to let us go together.”
Dewani was told that Anni would be dropped off at the police station.
They put a gun to his head and said they would shoot him if he did not get out.
He tried to open the door. A window was opened and he recalled hitting the ground and the car speeding away.
“The last thing I had said to Anni was to be quiet and not to say anything,” he explained.
He got help from someone in the neighbourhood and was taken back to his hotel by a police officer who said they would get the vehicle’s registration number from closed-circuit television footage.
He signed a document that police gave to him and did not pay much attention.
He said he saw taxi driver Zola Tongo later and he appeared shocked by what had happened.
The following morning, he was told Anni had been found shot dead, causing his whole world “to come crashing down”. He took pills and fell asleep for the rest of the day.
He later identified her body and was given her wedding ring and other items.
The following Tuesday, he spoke to Tongo and said he sounded down because he was being chased by the media and had lost his car.
“I felt sorry for him and decided I would give him R1000.”
He bought handmade cards and put one card and the money in a carrier bag. He asked Tongo to come to the hotel where he would not be hounded by media.
Dewani thanked him for his help, gave him the bag in the communication centre of the hotel and shook his hand.
He flew back to the United Kingdom that evening.
“I deny being guilty of the offences for which I have been charged,” he stated at the end of the explanation.
Tongo and two other Capetonians have already stood trial for the murder and were jailed.
Tongo said in a plea bargain that Dewani had offered him R15,000 to have Anni killed. He was jailed for 18 years in December 2010.
Accomplices Mziwamadoda Qwabe, and Xolile Mngeni — who shot Anni — were jailed for 25 years and life respectively in 2012.
Earlier, it was revealed that Dewani was bisexual and had sexual interactions with both sexes.
Dewani is charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes, and defeating the ends of justice. SAPA