Shrien Dewani denies plot to murder wife

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A BRITISH millionaire accused of murdering his bride on their honeymoon yesterday revealed in court that he had used male prostitutes, and admitted having arguments with his wife, but ­denied killing her.

Shrien Dewani, 34, formally entered not guilty pleas at the Western Cape High Court in South Africa. His wife, Anni Dewani, 28, was shot dead as the pair toured a violent neighbourhood in Cape Town while on honeymoon in November 2010.

Shrien Dewani appears at Western Cape High Court for the start of his trial in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Getty

Shrien Dewani appears at Western Cape High Court for the start of his trial in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Getty

Dewani denied any involvement in plotting to kill his wife. The care home entrepreneur, from Bristol, had been extradited to South Africa to face trial.

Members of both families were in court to see graphic footage of the crime scene and the body of Mrs Dewani.

Dewani revealed he was bisexual and admitted sexual activity with male prostitutes and a history of arguments with his “headstrong” wife during their 18-month romance.

Dewani also confirmed one of his liaisons was with a German male prostitute. In a statement, he said: “My sexual interactions with males were mostly physical experiences or email chats with people I met online or in clubs, including prostitutes.”

Prosecutors said Dewani conspired with locals Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni to kill his wife. Tongo, Qwabe and Mngeni are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.

Dewani’s counsel, Francois van Zyl, said the trauma of the incident has affected his client’s ability to remember clearly – but insisted he was not responsible for plotting the murder.

Reading from Dewani’s lengthy witness statement, Mr van Zyl described how the couple had been in the back of Tongo’s taxi when they turned off the motorway into a township. Dewani said in the statement: “The next thing I remember was banging noises coming from the front and right-hand side of the car. There was a lot of shouting in a language I did not understand.

“The next thing I recall is somebody next to me, who told me to lie down. The person had a gun in his hand. He was waving the gun in the air.”

Mr van Zyl said the gunman told the defendant to “Look down! Lie down!”

Dewani then said: “We were both terrified and immediately complied with his demands. I was lying half on top of Anni. Another person was behind the steering wheel. I do not know where Tongo was at that stage.”

Dewani said he pleaded with the attackers to let him and Anni go, but they demanded Dewani’s phone. “He searched me and found my phone in my trousers. He got angry. He placed the gun against my left ear and said that I should not lie to him or he would shoot me.

“I heard a clicking noise from the gun which scared me even more. I have never been close to a real gun before.”

Dewani’s statement said they returned to the motorway with another driver taking control of the car. He said Anni was screaming, and he was ordered to keep her quiet as they drove on to another side road.

Dewani said: “The driver said 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 said he was ordered to leave the car with a gun to his head. “The last thing I had said to Anni was to be quiet and not to say anything.”

The next day, Dewani was informed that his wife had been found dead. “At that point, my whole world came crashing down,” he said.

There were gasps at the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town as police video footage of his wife’s body was shown.

In the footage, forensics officers were seen opening the door of the abandoned taxi, showing Anni dead on the back seat.

Pathologist Dr Janette Verster said Mrs Dewani suffered gunshot wounds to her left hand and her neck, the latter being the likely cause of death.

The fatal shot was delivered “at close range”, with a suggestion Mrs Dewani might have been grabbing on to “someone or something” at the time.

Dewani denies murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

The case continues.