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Shrien Dewani has again been accused of masterminding the murder of his bride Anni – by a hitman sentenced to 25 years in jail.
A confession, this time by hitman Mziwamadoda Qwabe in the Western Cape High Court, follows the claim by the couple’s driver, Zola Tongo, that Dewani had pulled the strings to get Anni killed.
Tongo is serving an 18-year sentence after a plea bargain with the State. Prosecuting authorities said Qwabe’s confession strengthens the State’s case with new information on the role played by Dewani in his wife’s death in November 2010.
Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years in a plea bargain agreement.
“The agreement gives us new information on what happened on that night when Anni Dewani was killed,” Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila, said. “It confirms that [her husband] Shrien Dewani was part of the plan... it also tells us Xolile Mngeni was the one who did the shooting.”
Ashok Hindocha, Anni’s uncle, says they still need answers from Shrien and Xolile Mngeni, who were both in the car with her on the night she was murdered.
Anni was murdered in Cape Town on November 13, 2010, while on honeymoon with her husband.
Dewani, who is alleged to have hired hitmen to kill his wife, is still in England, fighting extradition to South Africa to stand trial for her murder.
Hindocha’s call for answers from Dewani and Mngeni is after a surprising twist on Wednesday, when Qwabe, one of the accused, pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
Hindocha said afterwards: “I would say the case is moving forward, but it has been 21 months of legal torture.
“There were five people in the car (when Anni was murdered). We have not heard from the two others. We need more answers.”
He added that they needed to know why Anni had to give up her life.
Hindocha said he was disappointed with the treatment of Dewani’s health.
“It is strange that after 21 months there has been no progress in his health and there has been no extra effort to seek another doctor.
“We are waiting for answers from all four accused and all the witnesses; only then can we find closure.”
Qwabe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years for kidnapping, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, 25 years for murder and five years for the illegal possession of a firearm.
The robbery, kidnapping and firearm sentence will run concurrently with the 25-year sentence.
Judge John Hlophe said Qwabe would not be eligible for parole before two-thirds of his 25 years had been served.
In his plea agreement, Qwabe admitted to taking part in the conspiracy and to executing the plan for a fee of R15 000.
He and Mngeni agreed to meet taxi driver Tonga in Gugulethu on the evening of November 13, 2010, and waited for a call from Tongo, when he left the hotel – at the V&A Waterfront where the Dewanis were staying – at about 7.30pm.
Tongo did not call at 7.30pm – only at 8.15pm, saying they were leaving the hotel only then. Qwabe said he received another call from Tongo later to say Dewani wanted the job to be done on the same Saturday.
“When Tongo arrived at the predetermined place, Mngeni and I were in position.”
They approached the car and Mngeni, who had a gun, pointed it at Tongo and ordered them out of the car. Tongo got out and climbed into the passenger seat, Qwabe got into the driver’s seat and Mngeni in the front passenger seat.
His confession corroborates Tongo’s version of events. He, too, claimed that Dewani was the mastermind behind his wife’s murder and hired them to kill her.
Qwabe said that after dropping Dewani, they drove along Mew Way, Khayelitsha.
“While I was driving the vehicle, Mngeni shot and killed [Anni]. He was seated in the front passenger seat at the time he fired the single shot.”
He added that he parked the car at the side of the road, which is when Mngeni started looking for the bullet casing.
Qwabe admitted robbing Anni of her Giorgio Armani wristwatch, white gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and BlackBerry – all estimated to be worth R90 000.
Ntabazalila said outside court on Wednesday the NPA was satisfied with the case. “We are pleased with the outcome, getting us close to getting justice for Anni Dewani and her family.
“Today’s confession provides us with information we didn’t have before. The information we previously had was as far as Tongo getting out of the car.
“What we heard in the past was only from the police and Tongo, but now we understand who did the shooting.”
Mngeni is expected to appear in court for pre-trial on Monday.