Evidence mounts against Dewani murder accused

2012-08-24 11:02

Evidence against Anni Dewani murder accused Xolile Mngeni mounted this week as witnesses and a forensic expert placed him at or near the crime scene.

The third witness on the stand this week also saw him in the company of convicted taxi driver Zola Tongo on the afternoon of November 13, 2010, only hours before Anni was abducted.

Tongo, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in December 2010 after entering into a plea agreement with the state, drove Anni and her newlywed British husband Shrien Dewani into Gugulethu at about 10.30 that evening.

He was chauffeuring them back from a restaurant in the Somerset West/Strand area.

Two men hijacked Tongo’s VW Sharan, ordering Shrien out the car.

Anni’s body, with a bullet wound to the neck, was found in the vehicle the next day.

The state contends that Shrien requested Tongo hire a hitman to kill his new wife and that Mngeni, along with Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who pleaded guilty to her murder and was sentenced to 25-years in prison earlier this month, carried out the killing.

Mngeni, whose trial has been delayed due to a malignant brain tumour, maintains his innocence but on Monday a state witness said he drove Qwabe and Mngeni from Khayelitsha to Gugulethu on the night of Anni’s murder.

Qwabe had approached him in a tavern and asked if they could use his car. He dropped them off metres from the intersection where the Dewani’s were hijacked.

Defence attorney Qalisile Dayimani had the court laughing when he put it to the witness that he was too drunk that night to definitely identify Mngeni.

However, the witnesse remained adamant regarding Qwabe and Mngeni’s identity. On Tuesday, fingerprint expert Johann Hanekom showed evidence that Mngeni and Tongo’s fingerprints were found on the car in which Anni’s body was found on November 14, 2010.

Dayimani tried to dispute that the fingerprints lifted from the car matched a recent sample taken from his client but Judge Robert Henney told him if he wanted to dispute the evidence he needed to provide his own forensic expert to do so.

Lastly, a witness from Khayelitsha said she saw Tongo, Mngeni and another man sitting in a car she described as “beige” and “kombi-like” in Khayelitsha on the afternoon of November 13, 2010.

She said she was walking down the road when she greeted Tongo, who she had known for many years, and saw Mngeni, who she recognised from the neighbourhood, talking in the car together with a third man.

The trial, which Henney has urged to speed up, resumes on Monday.

Shrien Dewani, who has also been charged with Anni’s murder, is currently involved in extradition proceedings in the UK where he has been receiving treatment for mental health disorders and depression since he returned to the UK following his wife’s murder.

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