Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Honeymoon Murder of Anni Dewani

The Attack


NY 1 — Native Yards 1 — is the name of the main road running through Gugulethu. The people who created South Africa's townships didn't find it necessary to name the roads that ran through the settlements with any precision. According to the authorities, within three minutes of exiting the main highway to Gugulethu on NY 1 the Dewanis and their driver, Zola Tongo were car-jacked. This much is undisputed.

Intersection where the Dewanis were car jacked
Intersection where the Dewanis were car jacked
Here's the story according to Shrien Dewani. As he told the Daily Mail in the days following the attack:

"Anni grew up in Sweden, and she felt as if the area around this hotel was just like at home: so clean and safe, and maybe a bit sterile. She had never been to Africa before, so she suggested that we should have a look at the 'real Africa.'

"The stop was on the way back here and was intended so that we could experience a township. We were barely in the Gugulethu Township when the attack happened. We had just turned off the junction and were stopped at a set of traffic lights. It was two African male gunmen. They were banging their guns on the windows. One of them was using his gun to smash the driver's window. Until this happened we had been completely oblivious. We were sitting in the back of the cab going through all the pictures of our safari."

Animated dramatization of the attack
Animated dramatization of the attack
According to Shrien, the assailants forced the couple's chauffeur, Zola Tongo, out of the car and drove off. For 20 minutes the attackers sped through the township, menacing the Dewanis before the gunmen forced Shrien from the car and drove off. Shrien, now 11 miles from where he had been abducted, hailed a passing car and immediately alerted the authorities. Shrien's apparent distress compelled the Cape Town police to leap into action, and they scrambled a police helicopter to assist in the search. Unfortunately, it was too late.

Just before 8 a.m. the next morning, Tongo's car and Anni Dewani's body were found. The last moments of her life must have been terrifying. Although she had not been raped — a rare exception to the rule of township violence — she had been badly beaten. Her body exhibited extensive bruising, and her clothes were ripped. She had been executed with a single shot to the throat. Her BlackBerry, her Armani watch, and a diamond necklace she had been wearing were missing. At first it seemed as if this had been a carjacking and robbery gone fatally wrong.

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