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Tongo: Dewani wanted Anni dead

Dewani doesn't deny being in contact with Tongo but claims he was arranging a surprise trip for Anni.

British businessman Shrien Dewani appears in the Western Cape High Court on 6 October 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - British businessman Shrien Dewani doesn't deny being in contact with convicted killer Zola Tongo but claims he was arranging a surprise helicopter trip for his wife Anni.

Tongo however claims Dewani wanted his wife killed while the couple was on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010.

Anni's body was found in an abandoned car in Khayelitsha following an apparent staged hijacking.

Dewani was extradited from Britain in April after losing a three-year battle to avoid trial in South Africa.

He pleaded not guilty to five charges, including one of murder, when his trial finally got underway in the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

During an explosive first day of the honeymoon murder trial, the British businessman revealed his version of what happened in the days leading up to his wife's murder.

In his 37-page plea explanation, Dewani said he met Tongo, a taxi driver, on arrival in Cape Town.

He said Tongo claimed to be an executive tour guide who had previously chauffeured a number of VIPs.

He said he asked Tongo if he could organise a private helicopter trip as a surprise for his wife.

But the prosecution will try to convince the court that the pair was arranging Anni's murder.

The court heard that on the night of the killing, Dewani and Anni were driven around in Cape Town by Tongo along the motorway because they could not decide where to go to enjoy Cape Town's night life.

They turned off the motorway and the "next thing I remember was banging noises coming from the front and the right hand side of the car." The occupants were ordered at gunpoint to lie down and to hand over their phones and money.

"They spoke to each other in a language I did not understand. The next thing I remember, they were both shouting at me to get out."

"The one with the gun put it to my head again and threatened to shoot me if I did not get out...I recall hitting the ground and the car speeding away. The last thing I had said to Anni was to be quiet and not to say anything. I said this to her in Gujarati," said the statement, read by defence lawyer Francois van Zyl.

Dewani said the hijacking was a traumatic experience that resulted in him being hospitalised for psychological problems for three years.

He said it gave rise to nightmares and memory loss.

The court adjourned to Wednesday, when state lawyers said their next witness would be ready.

DEWANI ALERT AND COMPOSED

Dewani, whose mental health has been questioned ahead of the trial, was alert and composed, but at times emotional, on Monday.

At times, the British businessman welled up and could be seen gently wiping away tears.

He also became tearful as his lawyer spoke about the romance between him and Anni.

The mood in court was sombre.

It was also difficult for Anni's family, who had tears in their eyes when images of her lifeless body were shown in court.

Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority's Eric Ntabazalila says they're pleased the matter is being heard in court after four years.

"We're happy that we've finally started with the trial. We hope that everything will continue until 12 December without any disruptions."

DEWANI ADMITS TO BISEXUALITY

In his plea explanation, Dewani said he considered himself bisexual, and admitted to having sexual liaisons with a male prostitute.

Van Zyl then read out a prepared statement on his client's behalf.

He said his sexual interactions with men were mostly physical encounters or email chats, including interactions with a male prostitute.

He said he met Anni in May 2009, when a friend gave him her number and there was a mutual chemistry.

However, their relationship had its ups and downs and Anni ended their relationship in early 2010.

But by April, they were again discussing a future together and he proposed on a romantic trip to Paris in June that year.

He shared intimate details about his relationship with Anni, their sometimes rocky courtship and their whirlwind wedding.

Click here for Dewani's full plea explanation.

Click here for the Dewani trial live blog.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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