Honeymoon murder tears apart two families who were once united in love
Anni Hindocha called off her marriage to Shrien Dewani a month before their Bollywood-style wedding – after a fight over wedding décor colour schemes and their outfits. She apparently threw her engagement ring at him in a fit of rage.
But the collective intervention of their fathers – Vinod Hindocha and Prakash Dewani – meant that the R3.1 million traditional Hindu wedding went ahead in Mumbai on October 29 2010 after all.
Almost four years on, there is no communication between the Dewani and Hindocha families.
What’s more, this week at the Western Cape High Court – where Shrien faces charges of murdering Anni during their South African honeymoon in November 2010 – the Hindocha family told journalists: “She is Anni Hindocha, not Dewani.”
Inside courtroom two, Vinod and Prakash steadfastly ignored each other.
The mutual antipathy between the families was palpable with the Hindochas lining the left wall and the Dewanis sitting along the right of the courtroom.
Occasionally, the family members stole glances at each other past Shrien – who sat in the dock in the middle, chewing on a pencil and furiously scribbling notes.
Vinod, who once openly supported Shrien, saying he loved him “like a son”, looked shocked when news of the 34-year-old Bristol businessman’s bisexuality broke on Monday.
Soon after this revelation, Anni’s mother Nilam, who survived stomach cancer 10 years ago, leapt out of her seat and left the courtroom.
The plea explanation submitted on Shrien’s behalf provided an intimate insight into their relationship, which played out against a canvas of unrestrained opulence. Both families are very wealthy.
The Dewanis live in Bristol in the UK and own PSP Healthcare, a luxury retirement chain across England.
The Hindochas are based in the Swedish town of Mariestadt, where Vinod worked as an electrical engineer.
At the time it seemed fitting that the attractive pair – then 30-year-old millionaire businessman Shrien and Anni, a bubbly 28-year-old electrical engineering graduate and parttime model – should tie the knot.
Shrien proposed to Anni at the luxurious Ritz Hotel in Paris on June 10 2010, after they travelled there in a chartered jet.
In the following months, they had “his” and “hers” wardrobes installed at Shrien’s Bristol home, plus a new kitchen built for Anni to entertain in.
The couple also had another house refurbished for use over weekends in London.
Shrien says he decided on South Africa as a honeymoon destination as they had never been there and the country matched their initials, ‘S’ and ‘A’.
The court documents detail Shrien and Anni’s sushi dinner at the V&A Waterfront’s Sevruga Restaurant on November 12, the evening before the murder.
That night he bought her a red rose – her favourite – and they discussed finances: “[Anni] did not like asking me for money,” says Shrien.
“In this discussion she joked with me that if she ever ran out of money, she always had her father’s credit card.
“I teased her saying that her father should cancel it as we were married and that she was a Dewani now. She responded by saying that her father will never cancel it.”
Over the course of the week, the court heard heartbreaking details of Anni’s final moments in the back of a hijacked taxi.
According to the state’s first witness, pathologist Janette Verster, Anni cowered behind her lifted left arm when she was shot dead on the back seat of the taxi.
Even the rowdy public gallery grew quiet when video footage showed Anni sprawled lifeless in a tight, black minidress – hiked up to expose her thighs – next to a flowered lace shawl.
Anni’s red painted toenails could be seen protruding from pretty, silver, diamanté sandals.
Her parents had probably been warned and were not present during the screening, but her brother, Anish, cried bitterly.
She is Anni Hindocha, not Dewani
THE HINDOCHA FAMILY