DEWANI THE CELEB
With bags packed, he thinks he’s going home soon
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.” –
‘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.