GEN­TLE SOUL, KINKSTER, KILLER?

CityPress - - News -

IN THE DOCK Shrien De­wani says he de­cided on SA as a hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion be­cause he and Anni had never been here be­fore and the coun­try matched the ini­tials of their first names Shrien De­wani is a sen­si­tive soul, apol­o­gis­ing for “con­trol­ling” be­hav­iour and prone to tears as he tried to keep his bride Anni’s wed­ding jit­ters at bay.

That’s one of the two pic­tures that emerged in the Western Cape High Court this week as the wealthy Brit nav­i­gated his way through the first week of his mur­der trial.

The other pic­ture, which prompted such las­civ­i­ous tabloid head­lines as “Bumshell!” this week, is of the 34-year-old as a bi­sex­ual man who sought sex on­line us­ing web­sites like Gay­dar and the fetish por­tal Re­con.

Shrien’s own le­gal team was re­spon­si­ble for plac­ing both ver­sions of the man be­fore the court, with his lawyer Fran­cois van Zyl de­scrib­ing De­wani’s se­cret on­line sex­ca­pades in doc­u­ments at­tached to his client’s plea state­ment.

De­wani’s early ad­mis­sion about his bi­sex­u­al­ity might well be a pre-emp­tive mea­sure against the pros­e­cu­tion’s ex­pected line of ar­gu­ment: that he was gay and killed Anni in a des­per­ate bid to get out of a mar­riage es­sen­tially or­ches­trated by two megawealthy fam­i­lies.

Friends and fam­ily have, since Anni’s mur­der in 2010, in­sisted that the cou­ple did not have an ar­ranged mar­riage and were in­tro­duced by mu­tual ac­quain­tances.

With one as­pect of his life laid bare, the plea state­ment pressed home its ver­sion of De­wani as a de­voted, loving hus­band who adored his wife.

In an email writ­ten to her on May 24 2010 after an ar­gu­ment, he says: “I have al­ways wanted a girl I can be friends with. One that un­der­stands me – and I know that that is not easy.

“I know that I am so fo­cussed that some peo­ple think I am so in­tense. I am fo­cussed on achiev­ing things in life. I want to be some­one who can do things – and that is not just about mak­ing money, but it is about hav­ing a rounded life.

“A fam­ily, a business, an in­put into the com­mu­nity. When we first met and started dat­ing I knew that you were that girl ... I ac­tu­ally have tears in my eyes as I write it.”

Hard-work­ing fam­ily man seems more in keep­ing with De­wani’s posh, strictly Hindu up­bring­ing than bi­sex­ual kinkster on the prowl.

He at­tended the ex­clu­sive, pri­vate Bris­tol Gram­mar School, which costs about R200 000 a year, be­fore qual­i­fy­ing as an ac­coun­tant at the Univer­sity of Manch­ester.

He was work­ing at Deloitte in London when he met Anni in 2009 – their first for­mal date was a the­atre out­ing to watch The Lion King – after which he re­turned to Bris­tol to run the fam­ily firm, PSP Health­care.

The man at the cen­tre of it all sat in the dock im­mac­u­lately dressed in a crisp, white shirt and dark suit.

Gone was the hol­low-eyed, wild-haired fig­ure who ap­peared in Bri­tain’s courts over a pe­riod of three years try­ing to fight his ex­tra­di­tion on the grounds of ill men­tal health.

This week he scrib­bled fu­ri­ously in a note­book, look­ing calm and, ac­cord­ing to some in the pub­lic gallery, “tran­quil­lised to the gills”.

It’s not clear what psy­chi­atric reg­i­men – if any – he’s fol­low­ing while he is be­ing de­tained at Cape Town’s Valken­berg psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal be­tween ap­pear­ances.

But he does not seem to have lost his sense of hu­mour.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice of­fi­cer in court, De­wani shared jokes in the hold­ing cells be­neath the high court this week dur­ing ad­journ­ments of the mur­der trial.

PHOTO: LERATO MADUNA

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