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19.11.10

http://allabouthoneymoons.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/honeymoon-pics-3-021.jpgA fairytale wedding in Mumbai followed by honeymoon in picturesque Cape Town, South Africa, ended on a tragic note for Anni Dewani. The 28-year-old bride, who was of Indian origin but grew up in Sweden, was raped and murdered near South Africa's second most populous city on Saturday night.
The ripples of Dewani's horrific end are being felt in India as the travel trade, which has been promoting South Africa as an high-end wedding and honeymoon destination, confronts that country's reputation of being prone to violent crimes.
The armed carjackers who scripted Saturday night's bloodsoaked story also injured 31-year-old UK millionaire Shrien - Anni's husband of two weeks - before they drove their SUV away with his wife inside.
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After their wedding in Mumbai, which was spread across three days, the couple headed to South Africa last week for their honeymoon, which included an 'idyllic' four-day safari at the Kruger National Park.
The couple was staying at Cape Town's five-star hotel, Cape Grace. On the ill-fated day, they had gone to Somerset West, a suburb about 50 km away. "Anni grew up in Sweden," Shrien said in an interview with the media. "She had never been to Africa before, so she suggested we should have a look at the real Africa. The stop was on the way back [to Cape Town] and was intended so that we could experience a township. We were barely in the Gugulethu township when the attack happened."
Shrien, a Bristol resident, is said to own PSP Healthcare, which operates eight nursing homes in England. Queen Elizabeth had honoured him for saving an ailing care home in 2006. Anni was a product designer.
The rape and murder, according to media reports, took place when the newlyweds were returning to their hotel after partying at a popular nightspot. Two armed men of African origin forced the driver out of the car and drove it away with the couple inside it. The bloodstained car was later recovered by the police three km away in the township of Khayelitsha. The killers dropped Shrien somewhere along the way.
http://www.honeymoon-safari.net/african-honeymoon-safari-images/images/natural_themes.jpgThis incident will seriously dent South Africa's image as a popular tourist destination, say travel trade insiders in India. "South Africa is a dangerous place, especially near Johannesburg and Durban," says Arjun Sharma, managing director of the upscale travel company, Le Passage to India. "We never fail to warn our clients against moving around South African cities at night because they have very high crime rates." Of course, the tour operators are quick to add that such tragedies can take place anywhere in the world. But they advise honeymooners against getting too adventurous in cities that are infamous for being crime-prone.
"There are areas in South African cities that must be avoided at night," says Travel Agents Association of India president Rajji Rai. His advice to travellers headed for South Africa: "Travellers must research the places they intend to visit and be in touch with their travel agents throughout their stay in South Africa." Adds Sabina Chopra, cofounder of Yatra.com: "This is doubly shocking for the travel trade because South Africa is considered to be a honeymooners' paradise. It is a wake-up call for all travellers to do background checks on the hotels and the nightclubs they go to." Crime is rampant in South Africa.
According to British tabloid The Sun, the country of 50 million reported 14,195 carjackings, 50,000 rapes and 18,148 murders last year. "South Africa is the one of most popular holiday destinations among Indian travellers," says Rai. It is in South Africa's interests, therefore, to get its act right.
 

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