Dewani denies previous SA murder involvement

British businessman Dewani denies new accusations he was involved in killing three years ago

The British businessman Shrien Dewani, wanted for extradition by South Africa over claims he paid hitmen to kill his bride on their Cape Town honeymoon, has denied he was involved in another murder three years earlier.

South African National Commissioner General Bheki Cele said police are investigating a link between Dewani and the 2007 murder of Dr Pox Raghavjee.

Publicist Max Clifford, who represents Dewani, dismissed the possibility his client was implicated in either murder.

He said the doctor’s widow, Heather Raghavjee, had travelled from King’s William Town to Cape Town to comfort Dewani after the murder.

But he said they had never previously met and the widow had made the journey at the request of her daughter-in-law, Alvita Raghavjee, who lives in the Bristol area and knows the Dewani family.

Released on bail
Dewani, 30, was released from Wandsworth prison on bail on Saturday night after his family came up with £250 000 security. He is wanted by South African police for conspiracy to murder his new wife Anni, 28, who was killed during a carjacking on 13 November as they drove through the township of Gugulethu.

The couple’s taxi driver, Zola Tongo, was sentenced to 18 years’ jail on Tuesday after confessing to conspiracy to murder, claiming Dewani approached him to hire two hitmen to stage the carjacking and kill his wife and, offering to pay R15 000.

Dr Raghavjee also died during a carjacking but the case reportedly remains open.

Tongo has also alleged that Dewani told him he had arranged a murder in a fake hijacking in South Africa before.

Clifford said: “Heather Raghavjee flew from King’s William Town in South Africa to Cape Town to try to comfort the family at the request of her daughter-in-law Alvita, who lives in the Bristol area and knew the Dewani family.

“She had never met Shrien before in her life. But she experienced what he experienced when her husband, Dr Pox Raghavjee, was shot dead in a carjacking three years earlier.”

He said Dewani’s father and father-in-law both flew to Cape Town on Sunday, the day after the murder, and Heather Raghavjee then met them all to talk to them and provide comfort.

‘A farce’
Clifford said: “How flimsy and ridiculous this whole thing is.
If it wasn’t so tragic it would be a farce, a comedy.”

The national commissioner has been criticised for previously describing Dewani as a “monkey”.

His spokesperson said today: “The investigation is ongoing even if it means linking Mr Dewani to other cases.”

She confirmed a report the commissioner said police were investigating a link between Dewani and the Eastern Cape doctor’s murder three years ago in King William’s Town.

The commissioner told South African broadcaster SABC: “We are continuing investigations. There are new revelations about the Eastern Cape… So let’s see what’s going on.”

Yesterday at the high court, prosecutor Ben Watson said “the net was closing in”. He said Dewani should not be granted bail “even on the most stringent conditions”.

But Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, was granted bail and now faces electronic tagging, home curfew and having to report daily to the police pending further extradition hearings.

The care home owner was driven away from Wandsworth prison in a BMW X5. The car left the prison with him hidden beneath a blanket in the back.

His family welcomed the judge’s decision, saying in a statement: “We are all delighted that the courts have consistently upheld Shrien Dewani’s right to bail.”

Meanwhile Rapport reported on Sunday that one of the suspects in the murder investigation has disappeared without a trace.

State witness Zola Tongo, who was jailed for his role in the murder of Anni Dewani implicated Monde Mbolombo, 31 among others.

The Afrikaans newspaper’s sources said Mbolombo had made a statement to police and would perhaps become a state witness.—

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