The fourth day of the honeymoon murder trial in the Western Cape High Court heard how murder-accused Shrien Dewani described himself as a single, gay man on his profile on dating website Gaydar. He also stated he was not out of the closet.
On the first day of the trial last week, Dewani stated in a detailed plea explanation that he was bisexual and had engaged in sexual activities with other men, including male prostitutes, but that his sexual interactions with women were usually during the course of a relationship, with emotional attachment.
Dewani pleaded not guilty last Monday to all five charges against him, including murder. He is accused of masterminding his wife Anni’s death during a supposedly botched hijacking in November 2010.
On Monday, the court heard evidence from Simon Johnson, a British-based former employee of Gaydar.
Johnson told the court that Dewani’s profile on the dating and hook-up site was created in 2004, but was deactivated on 21 November 2010 – apparently by Dewani’s sister.
In his hour-long testimony, Johnson explained that the company was able to retrieve a screenshot of what Dewani’s profile looked like when it was deactivated.
Dewani described himself on his profile as a “passive sub guy” and stated he was looking to meet other single gay or bi men. He also stated he was a “dominant active guy, fairly arrogant, likes to train up young subs”. He had saved 16 messages from other users.
Johnson added that Dewani ticked “no” in a field about whether he was “out”, but had ticked the “gay” and not the “bisexual” option.
Johanson was questioned at length by prosecutor Adrian Mopp and defence advocate Francois van Zyl on the process of setting up and logging into a Gaydar profile.
It emerged last week that Dewani was logged onto Gaydar early on 15 November 2010 – just hours after his wife’s body was found. Records show he logged in again on 15 and 16 November. It also emerged that Dewani was logged onto Gaydar while sitting with Anni as they waited for a flight at OR Tambo International Airport on 12 November 2010.
Earlier, Dewani appeared to break down as in-depth evidence about the hijacking was detailed in court.
Dewani fidgeted and shook in the dock before sipping water to compose himself as witness Mziwamadoda Qwabe gave details about the timeline of events on the night of the murder.
The day’s proceedings started with Qwabe being cross-examined by the defence. He is currently serving a 25-year-sentence for his role in the killing.
Van Zyl questioned Qwabe closely about his version of events. Qwabe vehemently denied that he had pulled the trigger which killed Anni, stating that it was accomplice Xolile Mngeni who shot the deceased. Van Zyl had put it to him that ballistic evidence would show he had pulled the trigger, but he repeated that he was driving the vehicle at the time the fatal shot went off.
Van Zyl also seemed to suggest that the killing was accidental, and it was in fact a kidnapping which went wrong. He said they must have known that Dewani was rich and they could have kept Anni hostage and demanded money.
Qwabe denied knowing Dewani was rich, reiterating the main objective that evening was to kill Anni.
It also emerged during the morning session that Qwabe had enquired about a reduced sentence or early parole in exchange for testifying in the trial.
Van Zyl questioned Qwabe about this, to which he replied matter-of-factly that he had wanted to know “what’s in it for me?”, and that testifying was stressful for him and his family. He was told that there could be no guarantees about his co-operation being taken into account by the parole board.
The day’s proceedings adjourned at 15:00 before the next witness was due to be called. Court will resume at 10:00 on Tuesday.
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