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Shrien Dewani Innocent, Says Witness Simbonile Matokazi

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The first witness to encounter Shrien Dewani after his wife was abducted at gunpoint in South Africa has spoken of his belief that the British businessman is innocent.

Simbonile Matokazi said he believed Dewani was telling the truth when he said armed hijackers had just ejected him from a taxi and sped off with his new bride Anni still inside.

Dewani will learn tomorrow whether he has won his High Court appeal against an order that he can be extradited to South Africa to face allegations of masterminding his wife's murder during their honeymoon.

The care home owner from Bristol has always strenuously denied any involvement in the killing of Dewani, 28, in Cape Town in November 2010.

A BBC Panorama documentary will tonight broadcast CCTV footage which the South African authorities claim shows Dewani paying off the taxi driver who arranged the murder.

Other images taken by security cameras at the five-star Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town show the couple kissing affectionately hours before Mrs Dewani was shot dead.

Recalling his encounter with a shell-shocked Dewani in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town, Matokazi, a local government auditor, told Panorama: "I don't think this guy had killed his wife."

He added: "When I found out that he was accused I was a bit surprised, because when he told me his story that night I believed him and I thought what he was saying was the truth. And it was genuine."

Dewani, from Sweden, was later found dead in the back of the abandoned cab with a bullet wound to her neck.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has admitted his part in the crime, claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Dewani ordered the carjacking and paid for a hit on his wife.

William Booth, chairman of the South African Law Society's criminal law committee, raises concerns in the documentary about the way cases are investigated before they come to court in South Africa.

He told Panorama: "The South African authorities are paying so much attention to the Dewani case to show the rest of the world that they are doing something about crime in South Africa. That is a big factor in this case."

The Dewani family's lawyer, Charlotte Harris, of Mishcon de Reya, said in a statement: "Shrien has not been charged with any offence in any country.

"Despite his offers at an early stage he has not been interviewed by the South African authorities in connection with any offence

"Shrien is innocent and has always maintained his commitment to clearing his name of all the false allegations and slurs against him. He remains determined to fight for justice for his wife, Anni.

"As a British citizen this can only be done when he is well enough and when his personal safety can be guaranteed."

:: The Honeymoon Murder: A Panorama Special will be broadcast on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday.