I was a fool to choose Dewani’s R5000 over my car, says Tongo

Murder-convicted shuttle-taxi driver Zola Tongo was not worried about what would happen to his minibus in the hijacking in which Anni Dewani was killed, he told the Western Cape High Court.

He said the hitmen who planned to kill Shrien Dewani’s wife had agreed his VW Sharan would be abandoned in Gugulethu on November 13 2010.

Tongo (34) was being cross-examined today during Dewani’s trial. Dewani denies masterminding the murder of his wife, insisting they were the victims of a hijacking.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, asked Tongo whether he arranged for his keys to be kept, or for the car to be locked, especially as it was a dangerous area. Tongo said he could not remember such arrangements being made.

Van Zyl drove home the point that Tongo was using his car to make a living. He asked how much income he received at the time from transporting people.

“It all depended on the work. If I am estimating correctly, if it was a busy month, I would make R30 000 to R40 000,” Tongo replied.

He said he only thought about what would happen to his car after the crime was committed.

“And you were quite satisfied to take R5 000 for your part in this conspiracy, without considering that there may be damage to your car or you may lose the car? Is that what you are saying?“

Tongo replied: “That is what I initially said. I was a fool and I allowed myself to be misled.”

Van Zyl asked him whether he was worried about the police impounding his vehicle, and not having it for a few days. Tongo replied that police would have informed him and kept his car.

“Mr Tongo, on your version, the risks you were taking with your car, and the trouble you went to, was out of all proportion with a payment of R5 000. Why did you not ask the accused for more money?” Van Zyl asked.

Tongo said he never thought about that.

Dewani has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes and defeating the ends of justice.

He claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13. 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 in return for R15 000.

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 October 18. Mziwamadoda Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

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