Anni Dewani murder accused pleads not guilty

Dewani, 28, was shot when a taxi she was in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township in November 2010.

Johannesburg: A South African man on Thursday pleaded not guilty to murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani, a Swedish of Indian-origin, in South Africa in 2010, even as a witness testified in court that he was asked to find a hitman for a foreigner.

Xolile Mngeni denied charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition at the Cape High Court.

On Monday a judge ruled that Mngeni, who has a brain tumour, was fit to stand trial, which is expected to last for six weeks.

Dewani, 28, was shot when a taxi she was in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township in November 2010.

Her husband Shrien Dewani, 32, from Bristol, is accused of arranging her murder but denies the charge.

An extradition order for the care home owner to face trial in South Africa had been agreed, but was halted by the High Court in London on mental health grounds.

The man who pulled the trigger that killed honeymooner Anni Dewani was paid a third less than had been promised by the person who ordered the hit on her, alleged to be her husband Shrien Dewani, the court heard today.

A witness who was employed at the hotel where the honeymooning Dewani`s were staying gave chilling detailed evidence of how he had been the middleman who put driver of the Taxi, which was hijacked, Zola Tongo in touch with a person who knew a hitman after Tongo had given him details of a planned murder.

The witness, whose name and identity was withheld by Judge Robert Henney for fear of harm or intimidation, said he provided the contact number for a former co-worker known to him only as Abongile.

The witness said he acted as the middleman between Tongo and the hitman as the planned hit unfolded, making a telephone call that informed the killer when the couple were leaving their hotel for what was to be Anni`s last ride in Tongo`s minibus taxi.

"Along the way, I asked him why he was looking for a hitman...He mentioned to me that there is a lady who needs to be killed. But he`s not sure because there are two ladies and he`s not sure which one to kill," the witness said.

"He said this gentleman was not from here and he had done this before."
Although the "gentleman`s" name was not disclosed, the witness said he had experience of how to pretend that the person was killed in a botched hijacking while it was actually a murder.

The next morning, Abongile had informed him that the job was done, but that he was looking for Tonga because he had received only South African Rand 10,000 of the promised South African Rand 15,000 for the hit.

Bheki Cele, who was national police commissioner at the time of Anni`s murder, said then that the police were investigating a link between Anni`s murder and the murder of Dr Pox Raghavjee, who was found shot dead in his car three years earlier in the rural town of Bisho under mysterious circumstances in which none of his possessions were stolen.

Speculation was rife that there was a link between the two cases as Raghavjee`s widow Heather travelled hundreds of kilometres to Cape Town to console Shrien after Anni`s murder.

Tongo, who was tried first, entered into a plea bargain with the state which saw him sentenced to 18 years imprisonment after he alleged Shrien Dewani as the mastermind behind Anni`s murder.

Last week a second accused, Mziwamadoda Qwabe also entered into a plea bargain, getting an effective 25 years.

South African authorities have agreed to a delay in sending Dewani back for trial until his treatment to ensure fairness, but have asked for a period shorter than the 12 months requested by Dewani`s lawyers.

A psychiatrist`s report will be submitted to the British court in September to determine whether Dewani is fit to stand trial in South Africa.


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link