On Monday, the Shrien Dewani trial finally began in Cape Town. Dewani’s wife Anni was shot and killed during a taxi ride in Gugulethu four years ago. The pair were in South Africa on honeymoon. The taxi driver claims Dewani paid him to stage a hijacking, so that the murder would look like “just one more crime” in a South African township. The driver and two other men have already been sentenced for the murder. Dewani, a wealthy businessman from the UK, was placed in a mental care facility after citing mental instability. He has pled not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder. But outside the Western Cape High Court, many believe Dewani’s days are numbered. RA’EESA PATHER reports.
Nondumiso Mfaxa, 49, community worker for ANC Women’s League, Gugulethu
We are here to give support to Anni Dewani’s family, to show that we as the Women’s League don’t like what happened. Their child died because of this man who said, ‘I love your daughter.’ He didn’t mean that, he had other intentions for their child, which is wrong. Even those who were paid to kill her, they were sentenced and we feel that when justice does that it sends a good message. It says: if someone comes to you with money, don’t take that money for the wrong thing. He [Dewani] is guilty. They came for honeymoon, and that honeymoon became death.
Jacques Pratt, 47, teacher, and founder of Children Against Crime, Tokai
I’m here to support [Anni Dewani’s] family. Crime doesn’t choose an age. The family came to talk to us earlier and said they’d like to send a donation to us. But it’s not about the money. They are in a foreign country and we want to show them support. I can’t judge or say Dewani is guilty, but from what you read, you get a picture in your head. To come to a country and commit a crime here, it gives us a bad name. It could’ve been Spain or any other country, but he chose to get rid of his wife here, and it’s a sad thing for us as Capetonians or South Africans. If those other guys already got their sentence, then Dewani’s just as guilty, so why is he still free?
Anton Bock, 57, contract worker in oil and gas industry, Lansdowne
I cannot judge if he’s guilty, but I reckon the odds are stacked against him. It’s bad that someone came here to commit murder, it adds to us being the crime capital of South Africa. Maybe he thought he could get away with it here. Crimes like these don’t make me feel good as a man at all. I’ve got children, I’m divorced now but I had a wife, and to commit that kind of violence against women is wrong.
Anita Kakaza, 22, unemployed, Mannenberg
We want justice for Anni Dewani. [Shrien Dewani] is guilty, he will rot in jail. We must stand up for each other as women. What happened makes me angry, but I can’t do anything about it and we can’t take the law into our own hands. They were supposed to come here for honeymoon, but then he killed his wife here. It makes me very sad.
Geraldine Burton, 44, administrative officer at Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch
My sister’s grandkids were staying at her house, and the father of the kids threw two petrol bombs inside the house. Her daughter got one child out of the house, and my sister ran in to fetch the son. Both my sister and her grandson died. He [the father] was convicted already and found guilty in both cases, but today we’re waiting for the sentencing. We would like more media to pay attention to our case. Murder is murder. The Shrien Dewani case and our case started on the same day, but his case is not more important than ours. In both cases lives were lost. We hope that my niece’s boyfriend gets put away for the rest of his life.
* Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.