Shrien Dewani tells court he is bisexual in honeymoon murder trial
British millionaire Shrien Dewani today stands trial in South Africa, accused of arranging a plot to kill his wife during their honeymoon, as the court heard that he is bisexual and slept with male prostitutes.
Care home owner Dewani was in 2011 extradited from the UK to face trial for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice. Prior to that, he was treated in hospital for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He today appeared at Western Cape High Court, as reporters described a passionate opening statement by the defence.
Dewani, now 34, has denied plotting to kill his wife Anni on their November 2010 honeymoon in Cape Town. The court heard that he said he is bisexual and admitted having sex with men, despite previously strongly denying having done so.
In a statement which was read out by his counsel, Francois van Zyl, Dewani said: “My sexual interactions with males were mostly physical experiences or email chats with people I met online or in clubs, including prostitutes.”
The court heard Dewani’s account of the events leading up to his wife’s death. He said they were held at gunpoint by two men who made taxi driver Zola Tongo get out of the car. He said he was then forced to climb out of the car window, and the men sped off with his wife, before she was found dead a day later.
The prosecution questioned a doctor who attended to Anni’s body, in order to determine the range at which a gun was fired at her, to ascertain whether the weapon was fired intentionally or accidentally.
Leopold Leisser,a German male prostitute who is based in the UK, has also alleged that Dewani paid him for sex on several occasions, and in previous testimony said Dewani told him he “needed to find a way out” of the marriage.
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Dewani has always denied paying three men to kill Anni following their £200,000 Mumbai wedding. Prosecutors argue that he conspired with Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni, in a plan to murder Mrs Dewani.
The three are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.
Tongo was originally sentenced to 18 years in jail for his part in the death. His sentence was reduced from 25 years after he implicated the British businessman in the killing.
Jeanette Traverso, a senior judge will be responsible for Dewani’s sentencing. There is no jury system in South Africa. Dewani told judge Traverso: “I plead not guilty to all five counts, my lady.”
The case continues.