Witness links Dewani murder accused to convicted taxi driver

2012-08-23 16:30

A new state witness in the Anni Dewani murder trial has identified accused Xolile Mngeni as having been in the same car as convicted taxi driver Zola Tongo on the night Anni was kidnapped and killed in a staged hijacking.

Zola Tongo was imprisoned for 18 years in December 2010 for the role he played in Dewani’s murder on November 13 2010.

Tongo is believed to have assisted Anni’s new husband, Shrien Dewani, in organising hitmen to murder Anni, who was kidnapped after the car Tongo was driving was hijacked in Gugulethu. Shrien survived the hijacking but Anni’s body was found inside the recovered car the next day.

The state witness, who may not be named, said on November 13 2010 she was walking along the street in Khayelitsha when she saw Tongo, whom she had known for 17 years, sitting in a parked car.

“I saw Ponono (Tongo) and he came out of the car and we greeted. I asked him what he was doing in Khayelitsha and he replied that he was visiting friends.

“I asked him to show me the friends and when I looked at the friends I saw Wati (Mngeni) and another gentleman,” said the witness.

She said she had known Mngeni since 1995.

She said Tongo was sitting in the driver’s seat while Mngeni and the other man, whom she did not know, were seated at the back of the car.

She said the car was beige and the model was “kombi-like”.

Her description loosely fits the colour and make of the shuttle taxi Tongo drove, a dusty gold VW Sharan in which Anni’s body was found on November 14 2010.

The witness said during the week after Anni’s murder she was asked by investigating officer Paul Hendricks to identify suspects at an identity parade at the Manenberg police station.

She identified Mngeni and Tongo.

The state believes the third man in the car was Mziwamadoda Qwabe who has pleaded guilty to murdering Anni Dewani and was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this month.

Mngeni has pleaded not guilty and his trial has been delayed because he is suffering from a malignant brain tumor.

Shrien Dewani, who is in the UK receiving treatment for mental illness and depression, faces charges related to Anni’s murder in South Africa and is the subject of extradition proceedings.

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