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A Bothasig family says they have been drawn unwittingly into the Anni Dewani murder saga because convicted taxi driver Zola Tongo, sentenced to 18 years behind bars for his part in the murder, gave police their address as his.
They say they are now battling to convince people they had nothing to do with the crime.
Their address appeared on Tongo’s charge sheet.
Mbulelo Mabulu, 34, said he and his family were forced to stay indoors as they were being besieged by journalists and photographers.
“This case has ruined my life and that of my family because my children are forced to play indoors. I am afraid they are going to be photographed,” said Mabulu.
He said the Dewani case and the media had turned what was once a private and peaceful home into a mini-prison where he and his family no longer felt safe.
Mabulu said Tongo had stayed in an outside cottage with another tenant for a month before the murder.
He said the tenant introduced Tongo to him as a friend.
“I do not even know Tongo, I would greet him in the yard as he parked his car.
“He was always well dressed, disciplined and seemed like any normal decent person,” Mabulu said.
He said he wanted people to be clear about the ownership of the house.
“To me it seems as though the police and the court believe that the house belongs to Tongo and I do not understand why he would give my address when he had only lived there for a month,” said Mabulu.
He said family and friends wanted to know why he associated with Tongo after they had seen his house on TV.
“What are my neighbours thinking about me and my family. We are now being associated with the crime and this case,” a worried Mabulu said.
Tongo, who entered into a plea agreement with the State and was sentenced to 18 years by the Western Cape High Court last Tuesday for his role in Anni’s kidnapping and murder, claimed in court he was hired by her husband Shrien Dewani to organise a hit.
He said he had even contacted his lawyers in an attempt to find a way to stop the media from publishing images of his home, but was told that there was nothing he could do as long as he was not implicated in the crime or the case.
“Not being implicated in the crime or case means nothing because the fact that my home is constantly in the media has brought misery into our lives,” he said. On Friday, Dewani was granted bail in the High Court in London.
Ben Watson, a lawyer for South African authorities, told British Judge Duncan Ouseley on Friday that new evidence – including video footage showing Dewani allegedly obtaining black market money to fund the murder - indicated that there was a powerful case against him.
But Judge Ouseley said he did not believe Dewani would flee because he had no criminal convictions and that it would be difficult for him to escape.
Dewani’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery, dismissed the accusations as “totally ludicrous”.
Dewani is due in court next month for a date to be set for his extradition hearing. - Cape Argus with additional reporting by Sapa-AP