Dewani suspect under fire

2012-10-23 20:43

Cape Town - A man on trial for the murder of tourist Anni Dewani appeared to stumble as questions were fired at him in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

Xolile Mngeni, 25, has been cross-examined by the prosecution since Monday on his whereabouts during November 2010 and his connection to evidence gathered during the investigation.

Dewani and her husband Shrien were hijacked while in a shuttle car in Gugulethu on 13 November 2010.

The couple and driver Zola Tongo were robbed of their possessions. Anni Dewani was shot dead on the back seat.

Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He admitted this week he was given Tongo and Dewani's cellphones by his alleged accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who is serving 25 years in jail for his role in the murder.

Mngeni maintained that Qwabe had wanted him to look for buyers for the phones.

Shareen Riley, for the State, wanted to know whether he had ever seen Dewani's watch, which was placed before court as an exhibit.

Mngeni replied that he had not.

"Your counsel put it to Mr Qwabe that two phones as well as a watch were handed over," Riley said.

"No, I never said anything about a watch. Maybe he [the lawyer] made a mistake," Mngeni replied.

The State quizzed Mngeni on what he did the Sunday he was handed the phones.

The court had previously heard that Mngeni went shopping with his friends at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in the morning, then returned to Khayelitsha and was handed the two cellphones by Qwabe.

At first, he told the court that he and a friend took three taxis to get to the Waterfront, shopped and then took taxis back home together.

However, he later said that he and the friend split up while shopping and did not travel back together to the taxi rank in town.

When they got home, he met Qwabe "by chance".

"Then he said to me he was looking for me. He asked what did I do with the items of yesterday," Mngeni said.

He quickly mumbled something, then changed this reply to Qwabe asking if he had found a buyer.

Riley asked if she had heard him correctly, as he had created the impression he was already in possession of the items on Saturday.

Judge Robert Henney requested a playback of the court recording.

The testimony was played back a while later and the court heard Mngeni referring to the "items of yesterday".

The cross-examination was postponed after lunch at the request of Mngeni's lawyer, Qalisile Dayimani.

He said his client was feeling "drained" and had hurt his arm on the stand.

The trial continues on Wednesday.