‘Hitman’ tells of Dewani murder

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Published: Wednesday 8th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A convicted hitman allegedly hired to kill the wife of honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani said he was told to stage a hijacking-gone-wrong in which the British husband escaped unharmed.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 29, came face-to-face with Anni Dewani’s family as he told the Western Cape High Court in South Africa: “There was a husband who wanted his wife to be killed.”

Qwabe was contacted by Zola Tongo, the Dewanis’ taxi driver in Cape Town, the day before the killing.

The witness, already serving a 25-year sentence for his role in the murder, demanded a fee of 15,000 rand (around £830) to carry out the attack on the 28-year-old bride, having been told by Tongo: “Somebody needs to be killed.”

Standing in the witness box and seeing Dewani for the first time since the murder, Qwabe said he was concentrating on the road while fellow assassin Xolile Mngeni killed Anni. The pair later split the cash before Qwabe went for a night out “socialising”, he said.

He told the court: “On the Friday (November 12, 2010) I received a call from Monde (Molombe, a friend).

“He told me that there was a job that needed to be done. “[Tongo] subsequently told me somebody wanted somebody to be killed. Do I know anyone?

“He asked what we needed. I said 15,000 (rand).”

Asked by prosecutor Adrian Mopp to explain what happened on the day of the murder, Qwabe said: “There was a husband who wanted his wife to be killed.” Anni would be killed and it needed to look like a hijacking.

“Nothing would happen to the husband and Zola (Tongo).”

Prosecutors say Dewani, who is bisexual, hatched a plot to kill his bride because he wanted out of the marriage. The 34-year-old businessman, from Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, said he could be controlling and intense, but he maintained that he and his wife were in love with each other.

Qwabe said he and Mngeni arranged for transport to meet up with the Dewanis’ cab for the attack, during which the millionaire’s mobile phone would also be taken as part of the ruse.

He told the court: “Zola phoned later on and said he was at the restaurant.

“He told me that the job needed to be done that evening.

“The husband wanted the wife to be killed that same evening.”

Describing the carjacking, former Table Mountain tour guide Qwabe said: “(Mngeni) had the gun.

“As it (Tongo’s car) approached I got into the driver’s side.

“(Mngeni) got into the passenger side and Zola got into the back. I saw in the (rear view) window a guy and behind me was a lady.

“I ordered Zola to get out of the car. He told me the money was in a pouch behind the front passenger door,” Qwabe said, adding they drove further into a township.

“I stopped the vehicle, I asked the husband to get out of the car.”

Asked by the prosecutor if there was any resistance from Dewani to leave, he said he did not recall.

“The husband was now out of the vehicle and I drove on,” Qwabe said.

He said he was behind the wheel when Anni was fatally wounded.

Qwabe said: “I heard a gun shot. (Mngeni) said ‘I shot the lady’.

“I pulled over on to the pavement and stopped the car. I saw she (Anni) was on the back seat of the car.

“I had quick glances at the wife – she was in the back seat. I think she was lying.”

He said he had “no sense” of whether the victim was still alive or not.

“I took a quick glance at her but I was also looking for the gun casing,” he added.

“He (Mngeni) takes out the money,” Qwabe said, adding that 10,000 rand was in the pouch and 4,000 rand was seized from “the husband”.

Qwabe said he went home briefly before going out to “socialise”.

“It was Saturday evening,” the witness said.

Dewani, again wearing a dark suit, white shirt and a black tie, stared at Qwabe as the prosecution witness was ushered hurriedly into the courtroom, just inches from where Dewani was sitting in the dock.

Qwabe, from the Khayelitsha township where Mrs Dewani’s lifeless body was discovered on November 14, 2010, has already confessed to murder, kidnapping, robbery and illegal possession of a firearm.

He is serving a 25-year sentence having been convicted in August 2012.

Dewani, extradited to South Africa after a four-year battle, denies hiring Tongo to arrange the killing.

He denies murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

In court on Monday, on the first day of his trial, he said he was bisexual and had indulged in sexual relations with male prostitutes. The trial is listed to last for two months.

Qwabe admitted that he had previously lied in court at a bail hearing before he eventually admitted his guilt over Mrs Dewani’s death in 2012.

Francois van Zyl, representing Dewani, said: “At that bail hearing you testified under oath you pleaded not guilty because you said you had an alibi. Is that a lie?”

Qwabe replied: “My lawyer at the time told me to plead not guilty.”

Pressing further, Mr van Zyl said: “I repeat the question. Was that a lie under oath?”

Qwabe answered: “Yes.”

Qwabe said there were no conversations with Tongo about how the victim would be killed, only that it had to look like a hijacking.

Mr van Zyl asked: “You never had a discussion about how this woman was going to be killed?”

“No, sir,” Qwabe said.

He said it was not decided who would strike the fatal blow, what weapon would be used, or where the killing would take place.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

Published: Wednesday 8th October 2014 by The News Editor

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