NPA: Plea strengthens case against Dewani

2012-08-08 22:00
Shrien Dewani (File, AFP)

Shrien Dewani (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - The plea agreement of a man who killed honeymooner Anni Dewani will strengthen the case against her husband and a co-accused, the NPA said on Wednesday.

"We are very happy and satisfied with the agreement because the agreement gives us new information on what happened on that night when Anni Dewani was killed," Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

"It confirms that [her husband] Shrien Dewani was part of the plan... it also tells us Xolile Mngeni was the one who did the shooting."

He said the agreement was a positive step towards ensuring justice for the slain bride, her family and friends.

On Wednesday, Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to four counts in the Western Cape High Court and was jailed for 25 years.

Judge John Hlophe imposed 15 years' imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances, five years each for kidnapping and illegal possession of a firearm, and 25 years for murder.

He said the robbery, kidnapping and firearm terms would run concurrently with the murder sentence.

Dewani, 28, was shot in an apparent car hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien in Cape Town in November 2010.

The plea agreement offered insight into the apparent sequence of events that fateful night and implicated Shrien Dewani as the conspirator of a contract killing.

Qwabe alleged that he was contacted on 12 November by a man named Monde, who said he needed a "job" done.

Zola Tonga, who was jailed for 18 years as part of a plea bargain, allegedly co-ordinated the job on Monde's behalf.

Qwabe alleged that he and Mngeni agreed to the job in exchange for R15 000, which would be left in the cubby-hole of the vehicle.

"The agreement was that Zola and the husband would be unharmed and that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and killed," he said in the plea agreement.

"The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to Zola or the husband."

He admitted assaulting her with a firearm to force her into submission, and robbing her of a Giorgio Armani watch, a gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and her cellphone. Her possessions were worth about R90 000.

He further pleaded guilty to driving Dewani to Ilitha Park, in Khayelitsha, where Mngeni shot her in the neck from the front passenger seat.

Shrien Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. He is being treated in the UK for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the end of July, his lawyer Claire Montgomery told the Westminster Magistrate's Court that keeping her client under medical treatment in the UK for 12 months would speed up his recovery, rather than jeopardise it by sending him to South Africa.

The British Press Association reported that the hearing was adjourned to 18 September for a psychiatrist to examine Dewani and give the court more information about his condition.

Only then would a decision be made on whether he was fit to stand trial in Cape Town.

Ntabazalila said Mngeni would appear in court on Monday for a pre-trial conference.

His trial could start the same day, depending on the results of a medical report to be revealed in court.

Mngeni was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and his lawyer had questioned his ability to concentrate during proceedings.

Read more on:    mziwamadoda qwabe  |  anni hindocha  |  xolile mngeni  |  zola tonga  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  honeymoon hijacking

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