Prisoner alleges Dewani taxi driver told him plan

2014-11-05 21:06
Shrien Dewani (File, AFP)

Shrien Dewani (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - An inmate at Malmesbury Prison in Cape Town alleged that Zola Tongo told him he and his accomplices initially planned to kidnap honeymooner Anni Hindocha and hold her ransom, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Francois van Zyl, for her husband Shrien, asked Tongo during cross-examination whether he knew Bernard Mitchell or "Beano", who was two cells down from him.

Tongo, 34, the State's 12th witness, said he did not know who he was.

Van Zyl said that in October 2011, Dewani appointed Taswell Papier as an attorney in Cape Town while he was opposing his extradition from the United Kingdom.

He said a prison warder contacted Papier on Mitchell's behalf and said the prisoner had information which may be of relevance.

Papier went to see Mitchell and he apparently revealed that Tongo took him into his confidence about his intentions for his clients the Dewanis.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

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

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 for which he paid R15 000.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term. Middleman Monde Mbolombo, a hotel receptionist, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices.

Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on 18 October. Mziwamadoda Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

Van Zyl told the court about what Mitchell revealed to Papier.

Shower stories

In September 2011, Tongo and Mitchell were allegedly showering when they started discussing their sentences and why he was serving a life term when Tongo was only serving 18 years.

Tongo apparently told Mitchell he was glad he did not get a life term and was fortunate to have become a State witness.

Mitchell was said to have asked him why he killed such a pretty girl instead of raping her.

"You then said that your 'accuseds' that were with you in this, jeopardised, and that is the word you used, the whole plan," Van Zyl said.

"You explained to him... that the plan was to kidnap her and to hold her hostage, but the whole plan went off the rails as when your 'accuseds' was on the way with her to the place where they wanted to hold her hostage, one of them wanted to rape her. A quarrel ensued and she was shot."

The lawyer added that Tongo allegedly said he thought about blackmailing Dewani and threatening to tell police that he asked him to kill his wife.

After listening to Mitchell's accusations, Tongo said it was nonsense and lies.

He said Mitchell might have watched something like this on television and decided to make it up.

"He then asked you how you could allow, and he referred to the accused as a 'bra' [brother], that this bra [Dewani] comes to prison and you replied that these people have a lot of money," Van Zyl said.

Tongo was adamant he did not know Mitchell and that these were prison stories.

Investigating officer, Captain Paul Hendrickse, shook his head and smiled as he heard the hearsay in court.

Van Zyl, for one last time, put his client's version of events that weekend to the witness. Tongo consistently replied that Dewani was lying.

The State conducted a very short re-examination and then Tongo was excused.

As he was escorted out the court by two correctional services officers, Tongo made eye contact with Hendrickse, pointed to Dewani in the dock and then made a fist.

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

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