A British businessman has been arrested at the request of South African authorities on suspicion of conspiring to have his Swedish bride murdered while on honeymoon, police said yesterday.
Shrien Dewani, 30, surrendered himself to authorities in Bristol, southwest England, late on Tuesday and was detained by London police in connection with the killing of his wife in South Africa. He is accused of hatching a plot to murder Anni Dewani, 28, who was killed after the car in which the pair was traveling was reportedly hijacked on the outskirts of Cape Town on Nov. 13.
“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Extradition Unit have ... arrested Shrien Prakash Dewani, 30, on behalf of the South African authorities,” a statement from the London force said.
It lists the allegation against him as: “On 13 November 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa, conspired with others to murder Anni Dewani.”
He was due to appear in a London court later yesterday.
Shrien Dewani’s alleged involvement in the murder emerged in a South African court on Tuesday, marking a sensational twist in the killing of his young wife, whose bullet-riddled body was found in an impoverished township neighborhood.
He returned to Britain days after the incident, in which he was unharmed and has denied involvement, but the court heard allegations he connived with a taxi driver to stage a robbery and have his wife shot dead.
Three men were originally charged with the murder, but as part of a plea bargain the High Court in Cape Town heard one of the accused allege that the husband ordered the killing.
“The deceased was murdered at the instance of her husband,” Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock told judge John Hlophe in court, South African news agency SAPA reported.
The claim that Dewani plotted the murder was made by Zola Tongo, the driver of the taxi in which the couple were traveling in near Cape Town. Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty to murder and aggravated robbery.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told reporters that Tongo had given evidence that he was approached by the Briton and promised 15,000 rand (US$2,175) “to remove someone off the scene.”
Tongo’s plea bargain documents reveal that the hijacking was part of a plan devised together with Dewani to conceal the murder.
“Threatening me and Shrien Dewani with a firearm was a mere pretense of force...” he said.
The two other men accused of Dewani’s killing are due to face trial on Feb. 25.
Prior to the killing, the honeymooners had dined in a seaside restaurant in a town outside Cape Town and were on their way back to the city when Anni Dewani asked to see township nightlife, according to reports at the time.
However, court documents released on Tuesday said this was part of a plan of subterfuge concocted by the victim’s husband and Tongo.
Tongo told the court he carefully went through the hijacking and murder details with Dewani, even taking him to a blackmarket foreign exchange dealer in Cape Town to arrange payment and avoid a bank audit trail.
“The agreement was that after the hijacking of the vehicle, Shrien Dewani and I would be ejected from the vehicle unharmed ... the deceased would be kidnapped and robbed, before she was murdered,” Tongo testified.