Press "Enter" to skip to content

Murder mystery

With the arrest of a third man by Western Cape police on Saturday and the indication that the authorities have a state witness, the case of the honeymoon murder and hijacking of Anni Dewani, a British tourist, in Gugulethu is starting to come together.

On Friday, the first man arrested, Xolile Mngeni, appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on charges of hijacking and murder.

There have been unconfirmed reports that he has confessed to his part in the crime but the nature of that confession is unclear. The admissibility or otherwise is dealt with in Section 217 of the Criminal Procedures Act 51 of 1977.

Whether it is admissible or not it will assist police in unravelling what took place last Saturday night in Gugulethu. It may indicate the events as well as the players involved.

Subsequent to Mngeni’s arrest, two further men have been arrested and both are expected to appear in court on Monday to face the same charges.

According to in the Weekend Argus quoting Melanie Peters: “It is understood the driver of the taxi shuttle, who was hired by the British couple and picked them up at the airport, has turned state witness. The driver’s lawyer, William da Grass, yesterday confirmed there had been “further developments”.

“His client was taken in for questioning on Thursday and only released on Friday morning. Da Grass told the Weekend Argus that he could “not whisper a word as I would be in serious trouble”.

What is not clear is whether this was the same driver who took Dewani and her husband Shrien Dewani into Gugulethu on the fateful evening. As the couple made an allegedly unexpected deviation on the night in all likelihood it is the same person unless the couple were being followed.

The fact that he has “turned” state witness could indicate his involvement in the tourist’s murder. This will become clear once it is established whether he has been given indemnity from prosecution in terms of Section 204 of the Criminal Procedures Act 51 of 1977.

Of course, the fact that he has hired an attorney points to this being the case.

The best scenario is that the state already has Mngeni’s confession along with the testimony of the driver and compelling forensic evidence. Readers will recall that last week the provincial minister for safety and security — before any arrest — indicated that he knew who the person was.

That seems to indicate that at least one of the murderers left evidence of himself in the car.

Despite reports in the Sunday papers — including ours — Western Cape police say that it has not yet been confirmed whether the husband of the murdered British honeymoon tourist would be returning to South Africa to assist with the investigation.

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said he could not comment on the reports that Shrien Dewani was returning to South Africa.

According to the Sunday Independent, Dewani was on his way back for “an identity parade and to point out crime scenes”.

Saturday newspapers were speculating that the murder might have been a planned hit. If that is the case there can only be one suspect. In order to avoid confusion I repeat that this is pure speculation at this stage.

On Friday, Britain’s the Sun reported that Shrien, who owns a British healthcare company with his father and brother, was £6,25-million in debt.

IOL also quoted Captain van Wyk as saying: “Police are working around the clock to ensure the perpetrators of the crimes are brought to book. Detectives have also seized a firearm this week which could be linked to the crime. Several leads are currently being followed.”

Alex Duval Smith of the UK Sunday Observer said: “… the Swedish-born engineer was shot dead with three bullets. Her husband Shrien, a 31-year-old British businessman, and their driver survived the late-night hijacking of their Volkswagen Sharan among the low-rise houses and clusters of shacks off the N2 highway”.

One thing is clear — if Smith is correct and like many other aspects we looked at on Saturday — the killers wanted to make absolutely sure that Anni was dead. You shoot her three times after allowing two witnesses (Shrien and the driver) to leave the car.

The couple, who wed in India, had only been married for two weeks when they were attacked by two armed men who hijacked their vehicle last Saturday.

They had arrived in South Africa on the Thursday before the incident and were in Cape Town for their honeymoon.

Apparently while returning from a dinner in Somerset West they elected to divert to a Gugulethu hotspot rather than go on to their the Mount Grace, a five-star hotel.

This was to prove to be a fatal mistake.

After leaving a restaurant they were confronted by two armed men who allegedly forced the driver out of the shuttle vehicle and drove off with Dewani (28) and Shrien (31).

Sometime around midnight they dropped off the husband in the Harare area of the Khayelitsha informal settlement and took Anni with them.

According to Shrien, he was assisted by passing motorists who took him to the Harare police station unharmed and where he raised the alarm.

The police then conducted a search for the hijacked vehicle which led to it being found in Lingelethu West at 7am the following morning.

On the back seat of the vehicle they found the body of Anni Dewani.

Gugulethu cartoon thumbnail
Value of Life in South Africa CartOOn


  • Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook


  1. Haiwa Tigere Haiwa Tigere 22 November 2010

    If what you are saying is what you are saying what you are saying is frightening

  2. Marianne Marianne 22 November 2010

    “On Friday, Britain’s the Sun reported that Shrien, who owns a British healthcare company with his father and brother, was £6,25-million in debt.”
    What does that have to do with the case?? Unless Shrien had a life insurance on Anni Devani?? Why shoot her 3 times, to me that sounds like an execution. Something does not sound right here.

  3. Grant Grant 22 November 2010

    Cape Grace….there is no hotel called the Mount Grace

  4. MLH MLH 22 November 2010

    I found it difficult to believe from the outset that from the time the body was found no public expressions of sympathy were made. All South African comment appeared to revolve around the damage this could do to our tourism industry; a touch callous, I thought. I’ve been avoiding the newspapers so only heard TV and radio news reports, but in discussion on Friday night I surmised that a hit may have been made. Others disagreed because they said the husband was extremely wealthy. To them there seemed to be no point. What I found most interesting, was that people imagine only a husband or wife would arrange a hit. The life insurance is often a direct pointer and the involvement of the British police had to have good reason. I thought Anni was a Swedish national, not British?

  5. The Creator The Creator 22 November 2010

    Interesting speculation. Of course, it is far from the first time that South Africa’s high random crime rate would have been used as a cover for an assassination. But even if that were the case, the solution to the problem is to bring down the broader crime rate. The problems of the specific case do not alter the general condition.

  6. anton kleinschmidt anton kleinschmidt 22 November 2010

    Your point being?

  7. Mpho Mpho 22 November 2010

    This whole murder does not make sense. Really, why take Anni and leave behind 2 witnesses indeed? Too many question marks?
    This case is still going to shock the living day light out of us, and I pray the mourning groom has nothing to do with it!

  8. Eligos Eligos 22 November 2010

    Personally, I have learned to place very little store on what the media report.

    I remember sitting through high profile criminal cases in the High (Supreme) Court in Pretoria when I was an articled clerk. When I later read the media report on the day’s proceedings, I had to wonder if we had been in the same court.

    Any speculation that is based on media reports (and that’s all that is available right now) is hollow.

    This kind of reporting has entertainment value, that’s all.

  9. Siobhan Siobhan 22 November 2010

    Traps: “Saturday newspapers were speculating that the murder might have been a planned hit. If that is the case there can only be one suspect. In order to avoid confusion I repeat that this is pure speculation at this stage.”

    If the killing was a ‘hit’, there can only be one suspect? I don’t follow your logic here. To whom are you referring? A ‘hit’ often involves whole syndicates and there were at least two ‘hit men’ according to the husband. Are you suggesting that the driver hired the killers? Or that he as well as they were working for the same person (unknown at present)?

    Also: There was a picture of the blood-stained back seat of the vehicle that showed what looked like two photos of Anni Dewani that ‘might have been left by the killers’. That certainly sounds like a ‘hit’.

    There is saying in the mafia that if you want to punish an enemy you don’t kill him; you kill someone he loves…

  10. Tlanch Tau Tlanch Tau 22 November 2010

    Brilliant analysis, it’s time we analyse this like it needs to be looked at.
    This part sums it all up for me.
    One thing is clear — if Smith is correct and like many other aspects we looked at on Saturday — the killers wanted to make absolutely sure that Anni was dead. You shoot her three times after allowing two witnesses (Shrien and the driver) to leave the car.

    Another thing is I don’t believe people understand the damaage that the Cougar from Pretoria could have done had her plans to kill her young lover went through.

  11. Peter Joffe Peter Joffe 23 November 2010

    This whole thing seems pointless as we do not appear to have a motive.
    Was it a hit and if so we have a motive? Why let two witnesses go if you want to commit a crime and get away with it?
    The same applies to rape. If they wanted to rape her then why leave witnesses? Did the murderers kill her for fun and if so why leave witnesses?
    This is a most confusing case and it is very sad that someone should die under such stupid circumstances or any circumstances for that matter. Witnesses all over the place.? A whole gang of people were involved. 4 or 5 or maybe even six and the hotel staff involved?
    There has to me more to this other than what we have heard so far. This is clearly a conspiracy of some sort but to what end??

  12. laurence laurence 23 November 2010

    Mmmmm…. speculation now is rife about this tragedy. I think we need to back off and wait for the police investigation to be completed before we add more fuel to the fire.

  13. Chantelle Chantelle 24 November 2010

    What is so confusing about this case? Murders as “confusing” as this one happens daily in South Africa. On 28 Aug 2010 my ex husband took his mother to hospital 2am. He arrived home, parked his car and was shot dead on the stoep. One bullet through the heart. The car keys was laying next to the car in the garage, but nothing was taken. He was an ordinary lower middle class man doing an ordinary job. No mafia, policies or criminal connections that might have gotten him killed. No burglary, nothing. His killing warranted a tiny entry in one newspaper. The cops did not questions neighbours or anyone. They took photos, tried for fingerprints, opened the case and that’s it. Another unsolved “confusing” murder in South Africa. At least Anni’s family will get a trial. His two sons will never even get an effort by the cops.

  14. X Cepting X Cepting 24 November 2010

    I agree this whole thing stinks to high heaven.
    Tourists might be unaware that going into Gugs late on any night if one does not live there could be an act of suicide, but surely any taxi shuttle service, if they value future custom, would know this? Then, why turn state witness if the driver is not guilty of complicity in something? This seem to point to bigger fish to be found and caught and as many point out insufficient evidence to come to any conclusion. British News carried one report of the husband negating that he ordered a hit, this means we are not the only ones to smell a rotten fish. Add to that a moneyd lifestyle a reported huge debt owed by husband and the sheer incredulity by Gugs recidents at this crimea and the whole thing somehow starts looking very staged. I am deeply sorry for the husband and family’s loss but do hope that the real guilty parties are found and brought to justice. When a country is notorious for its crime and, it only takes a bit of pondering to realise that it would be easy to hide just one more crime there and escape scot free, letting the locals take the fall.

  15. Melanie Nathan Melanie Nathan 24 November 2010
    How about some publicity for your own victims of crime. The LGBT community in USA will be calling for International BOYCOTTS of South African tourism NOT because of the tragedy in this case but because every day a young woman is being tortured or beaten and then raped in the name of so called corrective rape of lesbians. The victims who testify are being threatened and get no SAP protection in stark contrast to what you report here.

  16. Gail Gail 24 November 2010

    While not blaming the husband I find it extremely odd that he would actually exit the hijacked vehicle without his wife and without putting up a fight? Married for only two weeks and he obeys orders and exits the vehicle without trying to save her? The driver has been questioned and released. Does this mean that he is in no danger of being killed by the people who supposedly drove off with Anni? This will no doubt be a TV show sometime in 10 years.

  17. Dan Dan 25 November 2010

    What do people hope to gain by calling for boycotts of South African tourism? Do you really think that engaging in pointless collective punishment is going to stop attacks on lesbians? Do you actually think that it will make a difference to politicians in cushy jobs who know that ignorant people will vote them back into power whether or not they tackle the issue?

  18. Sithembele Ka Ngcibi Sithembele Ka Ngcibi 25 November 2010

    This hijack/murder leaves much to be desired. We are now all the more interested in the motive for the murder. From when I heared about this, I couldnt believe that a woman would be killed and the husband be left out. SA thugs would kill you for a good reason. Please I’m not condoning this dsastardly act. The first victim is almost always the more masculer gender. the question I kept asking myself is why nothing of value including the car they were using, was taken. Only her dear life. I do believe that the husband has a case to answer. This case must be speeded up and be closed as soon as possible. But also in many others similar haste must be applied.

  19. Melanie Nathan Melanie Nathan 26 November 2010

    @Dan Well I really do believe that the LGBT community which spends billions of dollars a year on tourism will boycott SA and should. I do believe that Boycotts call attention to issues. I do believe that SOuth African politicians are afraid to lose tourism; I do believe they do not like bad publicity; will it help clean things up – probably not, but sometimes as an activist one has to let go of the outcome and live in the principal. If it is collective punishment then indeed at some point it will trickle up as it has done in SA’s past….

  20. X Cepting X Cepting 26 November 2010

    @Melanie Nathan – While you’re about it, could you please see if you could convince our government to address the shortages in manpower, equipment and training in the police force, forensics and related services and to free our justice system from party politics so it can operate as it should, fairly and without fear of repercussions? I am fairly sure that all people of whatever sexual orientation and victim to whatever crime will be immensely grateful to you. We might even name a street after you.

  21. kampklok kampklok 29 November 2010

    lesgetreal where do you get your statistics from? No one can condone rape , but it affects all women regardless of sexual orientation.What utter cheek for an AMERICAN organization to call for a boycott of South Africa! In South Africa gay people may get legally married and you famous “don’t ask don’t tell policy” will be unconstitutional.You have far too much work to do in your country ,where barbaric sentences, such as the death penalty, are still executed , to pick on our small but far more civilised country.

Leave a Reply