Change in Tongo hijack story

2014-11-04 18:45
Shrien Dewani in the Western Cape High Court. (Mike Hutchings, AFP)

Shrien Dewani in the Western Cape High Court. (Mike Hutchings, AFP)

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Cape Town - The shuttle driver convicted of his role in Anni Dewani's murder changed details of what happened during the hijacking in which she was killed, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Zola Tongo claimed in 2010 he sat in the passenger seat of his shuttle taxi, but later said he sat in the back with his clients Shrien Dewani and Anni.

Francois van Zyl, for Shrien Dewani, pointed out this discrepancy between Tongo's initial statement to police on 26 November 2010, and what he was telling the court at present.

Tongo is the State's 12th witness in Dewani's trial and has been on the stand since last week. He is serving an 18-year jail term as part of a plea bargain.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with Tongo and others to kill Anni while they were on honeymoon on Cape Town.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

Van Zyl asked how he managed to get from the driver's seat to the back seat after Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni hijacked him.

He replied that he went through the gap between the front seats.

Tongo sat at the back on the left, Dewani in the middle and Anni on the right. Qwabe drove and Mngeni sat in the front passenger seat with the gun.

Van Zyl said his client recalled someone next to him on the back seat with a gun telling him to lie down.

"Those are lies," Tongo replied.

Dewani closed his eyes at intervals in the questioning.

He claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, 13 November. He was released unharmed and Anni driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking and paid them R15 000.

Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo 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 on 18 October. Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

Van Zyl wanted to know how Tongo got out of the hijacked vehicle.

He replied that Mngeni opened the left rear door from the outside, at a stop sign behind the Gugulethu police barracks, and said he must get out.

He later changed this and said both Qwabe and Mngeni had told him to get out.

Van Zyl said it was necessary for Mngeni to open the door from the outside because the child lock was on.

"I can't remember talking to them about the child locks but he is the one who opened for me from the outside," Tongo replied.

He said Mngeni opened the front passenger door, put his foot on the ground, turned slightly and stretched his arm to open Tongo's back door.

Van Zyl directed him to photos of Tongo's VW Sharan and wanted to make sure Mngeni had leaned over to open the rear door.

The lawyer said they would have to test that scenario and Tongo replied: "I would be very happy."

During Mngeni's trial in 2012, his lawyer Qalisile Dayimani put it to Qwabe that Mngeni could not have been the one who pulled the trigger because he had suffered an injury to his left hand in 2009 and was hospitalised for some time.

Qwabe said he had seen Mngeni with his arm in a cast at some point, but could not remember whether it was his left or right hand.

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

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