Tongo grilled on hit money

2014-10-30 17:04
Shrien Dewani in court. (AP)

Shrien Dewani in court. (AP)

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Cape Town - Murder-accused Shrien Dewani's lawyer repeatedly questioned one of his client's alleged accomplices in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday on the payment arrangement for a hit on Dewani's wife Anni.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, kept on returning to if, and how, middleman Monde Mbolombo and convicted killers Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, and Xolile Mngeni agreed to split the hit money.

Tongo, aged 34, the State's 12th witness, had driven Dewani and his wife from Cape Town International Airport to their hotel on 12 November 2010, and said that the same day Dewani offered him a job, later revealed as a hit, for R15 000.

He said Dewani promised to pay him a separate R5 000, and refer business to him after the job was done but Van Zyl said this was not in his statement.

Dewani is accused of the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking on 13 November 2010.

The State alleges that he conspired with others to stage the hijacking. Her slumped body was found in the abandoned shuttle taxi in Khayelitsha the following day.

Mbolombo, a hotel receptionist, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices.

Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour two weeks ago. Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term, and Tongo 18 years.

Tongo said Dewani was willing to pay R15 000, but in US dollars.

Van Zyl asked what was in it for Mbolombo and he replied that he did not know because the money was not his business.

'Does not concern me'

In his statement to police, Tongo had stated Mbolombo told him he wanted R5 000 of the R15 000 and that the remaining R10 000 was for the hitmen.

"I said to him as to how much money and how you get paid, it does not concern me. I am not getting involved in that", Tongo told Van Zyl.

He said he told Mbolombo to get his share from the hitmen, not from him. Later, after repeated questioning on the same angle, Tongo conceded that Mbolombo and he may have discussed the amounts mentioned in the statement.

The court heard that Tongo and Mbolombo contacted each other after the murder, because Mbolombo wanted to know where his share was.

Tongo said he did not think to involve Dewani in money matters because the men had agreed that Dewani would leave the hit money in Tongo's vehicle for Mngeni and Qwabe.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso said it seemed, according to his version, the deal was struck mainly between himself and Dewani.

Tongo said that was correct.

"You were the spokesperson who spoke to Mr Monde [Mbolombo], who in turn contacted the young men", she said.

He agreed.

Tongo thought it necessary to explain to her why it seemed he was conceding so many errors during his testimony.

He said some details were only returning to him now.

"The time I was relating things to the police, I was not in a good condition at all. But now I am settled down, I have calmed down. Some of the things are now re-appearing. I might even mention things that I did not previously mention."

Read more on:    anni hindocha  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  dewani trial

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