DE­WANI THE CELEB

With bags packed, he thinks he’s go­ing home soon

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MARK BEHR AND SOLLY MAPHUMULO

He could eas­ily have opened the door of the po­lice van and ran away

HERE IS mur­der ac­cused Shrien De­wani sit­ting in front of a po­lice van. In one of the pic­tures, he is seen emerg­ing out of the pas­sen­ger door, laugh­ing.

An eye­wit­ness out for a Sun­day walk told The Star yes­ter­day that he saw a po­lice van at about 10.40am pull up out­side ward 4 at Valken­berg Hos­pi­tal in Cape Town on the day.

The po­lice ve­hi­cle briefly sounded its siren.

“Ini­tially I thought it was the cop ‘hoot­ing’ with his siren to let a col­league know he had ar­rived. I thought it was odd ’cos I’m sure it’s a breach of Valken­berg and the SAPS’s pro­to­col.

“Then I saw De­wani emerge from the pas­sen­ger door laugh­ing, and fig­ured it must have been him play­ing the fool. He seemed to be in good spir­its.”

The eye­wit­ness said De­wani got out the van and walked back to­wards the ward, car­ry­ing “box­ing gloves and other kit”.

Mo­ments later, his min­ders, who had walked back to the ward, ar­rived. One was car­ry­ing an ex­er­cise mat, ac­cord­ing to the source.

Another source from Valken­berg said De­wani meets his lawyers and fam­ily on Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and at week­ends in a se­cluded house near the main en­trance that is used for ad­min staff and for con­fer­ences and lec­tures.

“It’s sur­rounded by a wall and lots of trees, so the De­wa­nis can sit out­side and not a soul would know they are there. They’ve got ab­so­lute pri­vacy.

“It’s a bonus for De­wani, who re­ally has got spe­cial treat­ment. None of the other pa­tients get to meet their fam­i­lies in sur­round­ings like that.”

The source said the busi­ness­man also spends time at the house on days when he does not have vis­i­tors. “It has been a fan­tas­tic es­cape from the ward, which can start to wear pa­tients down be­cause they never get time to be alone.”

It is un­der­stood he might have fetched the box from this very same house.

De­wani used to be seen walk­ing a lot around the grounds, the Valken­berg source said.

“And staff have spot­ted him skip­ping and box­ing un­der a tree with one of his min­ders. But that was months ago. For some rea­son, he has switched to ex­er­cis­ing at times when no one is around.

“He’s very happy. He is in good spir­its. He is on top of the world. And that’s not be­cause of med­i­ca­tion, be­cause he isn’t on any. You can see it when he leaves the ward. He’s all chatty and smiles and very laid back.

“He looks very self-con­tained and un­per­turbed as though he hasn’t got a worry in the world. His bags are packed. He reck­ons he is out of here this week. He is con­vinced that the judge will dis­miss his case and that he will soon be on a flight back to the UK.

“He has packed all his per­sonal stuff. There’s noth­ing ly­ing around. His room is squared away like he is not com­ing back,” the source said.

“We’ve seen a side of Shrien that the pub­lic are not fa­mil­iar with. He is quite a witty guy with a good sense of hu­mour. He of­ten sits in the ward lounge and tells jokes to the other pa­tients and the staff.”

“He’s also be­come some­thing of a celebrity at Valken­berg. Other pa­tients of­ten pop into ward 4 just to catch a glimpse of him. Peo­ple here don’t look down on him or shun him. And no one has tried to pick an ar­gu­ment or a fight with him or carry out any street jus­tice.”

The source said most peo­ple think De­wani is a VIP. “He’s the celebrity of Valken­berg and doesn’t seem both­ered by the at­ten­tion.”

De­wani is mon­i­tored by a po­lice guard and a nurse round the clock.

Simultaneously, the pic­ture of De­wani sit­ting in the front seat of a po­lice car has shocked the po­lice.

They said this could not only en­dan­ger his life, but the lives of the com­mu­nity if he tried to es­cape.

The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard has also ex­pressed as­ton­ish­ment.

She said: “This is ex­tra­or­di­nary! I have never heard of a mur­der ac­cused sit­ting in the front seat of a po­lice van. He could have eas­ily opened the door and ran away.”

She was go­ing to write to Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko to find out “why this par­tic­u­lar man was be­ing given pref­er­en­tial treat­ment”.

A po­lice of­fi­cer who has worked for the SAPS for more than a decade said: “It is the duty of a mem­ber of the po­lice to take steps to pro­tect the com­mu­nity and the sus­pect, by not di­rectly or in­di­rectly as­sist­ing the de­tained per­son.” –

PIC­TURES: MIKE BEHR / NOBLE / DRAPER

‘RIGHT OF PAS­SAGE’: Shrien De­wani alights from the front of a po­lice ve­hi­cle at Valken­berg Hos­pi­tal in Cape Town. It ap­pears he had been ex­er­cis­ing with box­ing gloves. De­wani’s de­fence team are try­ing to get his trial for or­gan­is­ing the mur­der of his wife thrown out.

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