Taxi driver recalls day he met Dewani

2014-10-27 16:08
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Cape Town - A convicted shuttle taxi driver told the Western Cape High Court on Monday how he met murder accused businessman Shrien Dewani in 2010.

Zola Tongo, 34, was called as the State's 12th witness in Dewani's trial and was flanked by two correctional services guards as he testified.

On the afternoon of 12 November 2010, Tongo was at the Cape Town International Airport awaiting customers, when he was approached by Dewani outside.

Tongo was standing with another man smoking.

Prosecutor Shareen Riley asked if Dewani was alone and Tongo confirmed he was.

Dewani was pushing a trolley with some luggage on it.

"He came to me, approached me, asking where he can get transportation to town. I responded with confidence that it is actually my job, saying to him where are you going to. He said to me he is going to the Cape Grace."

He told Dewani that other taxis charged exorbitant fees and that he would charge a lower price.

Dewani told him he was with his wife and he should wait. While waiting, Tongo saw the wife approaching from the inside of the airport.

"She came to where we were standing near the door, then the gentleman explained to her that he had found a motor vehicle that was going to take them to town. I had introduced myself while we were busy walking."

Tongo said he introduced himself as Zola and said he never used the name Robert because he did not like it.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso asked what the relevance of the name was and Riley responded that Dewani had claimed in his plea explanation that Tongo introduced himself as Robert.

Tongo said that while they were walking to the vehicle, Anni Hindocha asked him why he parked at the lower parking area and not where other vehicles were parked.

Tongo told her he did not yet have a permit to park in the airport's taxi area and that he was waiting for it.

He went to pay for his parking ticket and took the couple to his silver-grey VW Sharan.

"I tried at all means as a new business person to sell myself or to market myself to these people," he said.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail sentence for his role in Hindocha's murder.


In court, Dewani stared at Tongo, not breaking his gaze.

Dewani is accused of the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking on 13 November 2010.

The State alleges that he conspired with others to stage the hijacking in return for R15 000.

Her slumped body was found in the abandoned shuttle taxi in Khayelitsha the following day.

Tongo told the court that as he packed their luggage, he spoke highly of the Cape Grace Hotel where they were staying.

Riley asked if he had ever done transfers from the hotel and Tongo said he had sometimes transported people from there to the airport.

He told the couple about the informal settlements and townships near the airport.

"I also explained to them about the importance of the township that was just next to the squatter camp. It's Gugulethu. I explained to them that most of our visitors or tourists liked to go to places where they are braaing meat and that place is known to everybody. The name of the place is called Kwa-Mzoli," Tongo said.

"Everybody who is arriving here enjoys themselves and that person will never forget how nice or good Cape Town is."

Riley asked if he knew how long the couple were in Cape Town for and he said he did not.

Tongo said it was quiet in the car and they only asked a few questions.

"The husband was the one asking the questions. She was quiet."

The taxi driver said that he always tried to make people trust him or have confidence in his services.

Anni and Shrien Dewani were married in a customary Hindu ceremony, which is not legally recognised. The Hindocha family has requested that Anni, therefore, be referred to as Anni Hindocha. News24 will heed this request.

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

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