Captured in Cape Town: The Murder of Anni Dewani

Her husband was a key suspect. But the investigation’s focus on his bisexuality may have hindered justice.

Imaan Sheikh

June 8, 2021

Captured in Cape Town: The Murder of Anni Dewani
Shrien Dewani and Anni Ninna Dewani at their wedding in Mumbai (Anni Dewani memorial page)

It was 2010, and engineer Anni Hindocha was living her dream. The 28-year-old Swedish Indian bride was marrying her British Indian husband, Shrien Dewani, in Mumbai. Their wedding was so lavish and romantic, guests and family members claimed that they’d never been to one like it. The bride and groom slow-danced under soft lavender lights, gazing into each other’s eyes, as Shrien sang the 1990s hit “Pehla Nasha” to his wife. The song perfectly described their whirlwind love. The couple had met through mutual friends just a year earlier, in 2009, while Anni was on a trip to London. Shrien was a handsome, 30-year-old Bristolian with a charming smile and successful career as an accountant. His family operated a lucrative nursing home business in Britain.

After just a few dates, the two realized their connection was special. Anni flew back to Stockholm, where she worked, but within months, she handed in her resignation and moved to London to be with Shrien. Three months of living together was all it took for him to propose. When Anni told her family about Shrien, they were overjoyed. The families approved of the match, and the couple had a traditional Indian wedding on October 29, 2010, in the posh lakeside neighborhood of Powai, Mumbai. Nearly a week after the wedding celebrations, the couple landed in Cape Town for their honeymoon. They planned to legalize their union under British law upon returning from their trip to South Africa.

But within a few days of their trip, everything came crashing down. It was the third day of their honeymoon, and after a seafood dinner at a waterfront restaurant, the couple was en route to the town of Gugulethu, about 10 miles from Cape Town, with their cab driver, Zola Robert Tongo, an independent tour guide who Shrien had hired. Two armed men stopped and hijacked their car, left Tongo on the side of the road, and drove off with the couple. After 20 minutes of driving, they robbed Shrien of his cash and valuables and threw him out of the car; they didn’t release Anni. Shrien found some locals to help him and told the police what had happened. He later phoned his father-in-law, Vinod Hindocha. “I’m sorry, I could not take care of your daughter,” he said. Vinod, who already knew about the abduction through Shrien’s father, prayed he could pay a possible ransom and get Anni safely home.

Early next morning, police located Tongo’s cab not far from Gugulethu. In the back seat lay Anni’s lifeless body. She had been shot in the neck, and her jewelry, Blackberry, and handbag were all missing. The fairytale love story had come to a gory end.