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Hon­ey­moon mur­der tears apart two fam­i­lies who were once united in love

CityPress - - News - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN bi­enne.huis­man@city­press.co.za

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

Anni De­wani

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