Hugo Keith, a lawyer representing South African authorities, disclosed to Belmarsh Magistrate’s Court that Shrien Dewani, 31, had previously told a witness he “needed a way out” of his marriage to Anni, his 28-year-old wife, a native of Mariestad in central Sweden.
“Dewani told (the unnamed witness) in April 2010 how he was engaged and had to get married,” Keith said.
“He said although she was a nice, lovely girl who he liked, he could not break out of the engagement because he would be disowned by his family.
“He went on to say to the witness he needed to find a way out of it,” added the lawyer.
Dewani was allowed to leave court early on medical grounds and returned to Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health unit in Bristol, south west England, where he is being held on bail.
He was detained there last month after being kicked out of another hospital for disruptive and aggressive behaviour.
An expert on South Africa’s prison system warned that if extradited, Dewani would be targeted by prisoners due to rumours about his sexuality.
“He’s likely to be very vulnerable to sexual violence because of certain of his characteristics,” Sasha Gear, from Johannesburg’s Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, said by video link.
“The connections that have been made with homosexuality put him at additional risk,” she added. “Inmates perceived to be gay are very vulnerable in prison and allegations of homosexuality … put him at risk.”
Anni Dewani, whose family live in Sweden, was shot and killed in a reported carjacking on the outskirts of Cape Town last November.
Speaking with the London Times newspaper, Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha expressed hope that Dewani’s trial would shed light on the circumstances of his daughter’s death.
“We hope and pray we will get all of the answers soon to what really happened to my Anni,” he told the newspaper.
“We know that we shall never hear Anni’s voice again, but she is in everybody’s thoughts and we miss her. Time heals all wounds, but this one gets deeper and deeper. We hope we shall be relieved from the torture soon and get the answers we are begging for.”
Zola Tongo, the driver of the taxi in which the young bride and her husband were travelling, said he was paid 1,500 rand ($220) for his role in the murder.
He was sentenced to 18 years in jail after he turned state’s witness and implicated Shrien Dewani in plotting to kill his wife.
Dewani denies any involvement.