Evidence against Dewani murder accused remains elusive

2012-08-17 06:49

The man whom a hotel employee called after being asked if he knew anyone who would act as a hitman – allegedly to murder newlywed Anni Dewani – was none other than Mziwamadoda Qwabe, the Cape High Court heard yesterday morning.

Qwabe was last week sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars for the murder of Anni Dewani.

Qwabe’s testimony, however, fingered Xolile Mngeni as the man who pulled the trigger.

Mngeni, who is currently in the dock, has had his trial delayed due to being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The hotel employee – who presiding Judge Robert Henney has ordered cannot yet be named – who has been on the witness stand since Mngeni’s trial began on Wednesday only knew Qwabe by the name Abongile, which was the name used in court yesterday.

The state contends that shortly after arriving in South Africa on honeymoon, Anni’s new husband Shrien Dewani asked their taxi driver, Zola Tongo, if he could put him in touch with a hitman.

A fee of R15 000 was believed to have been agreed upon.

Tongo, who was in December 2010 jailed for 18 years after entering a plea bargain with the state, approached the hotel employee currently in the witness stand.

The witness called Qwabe (whom he knew as Abongile) and within 48 hours, the court has heard, a hijacking was staged when Tongo drove the couple into the township of Gugulethu on November 13, 2010, and Anni’s body was found in the vehicle the next day.

It is believed Shrien was ordered out of the vehicle during the staged hijacking.

While details of the calls and meetings between Tongo, the witness and Qwabe were tied down in court, clear evidence of Mngeni’s involvement is yet to emerge during this particular trial.

When asked by prosecutor Shireen Riley whether he had ever seen Mngeni before, the witness said: “No.”
He said he had never seen him before he appeared in court as a suspect.

However, the state has up to 15 further witnesses yet to take the stand.

Yesterday morning, the witness stated he did not receive any benefit, or promise of any benefit from liaising between Tongo and Qwabe.

The witness was apprehended by police during the early morning of August 18 November, four days after Anni’s body was found. Qwabe was also apprehended that morning.

He was held until Monday November 22, during which time he said he requested that he be allowed to turn state witness.

Shrien Dewani is still in the UK, where he returned days after Anni’s murder, and is involved in extradition proceedings so he can be put on trial in South Africa.

– West Cape News

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