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Cape Town - Self-confessed contract killer Mziwamadoda Qwabe has apologised for the heartache he caused the family of honeymoon bride Anni Dewani, who was murdered in Gugulethu almost two years ago.
“To the family of the deceased: I know that we can never ever bring their daughter back and it would probably never be easy for them to forgive what happened to their daughter. I truly and humbly regret and apologise for what happened to their daughter.
“If ever, or whenever they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Qwabe, who is serving 25 years for his role in the murder plot, said in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
Anni’s father, Vinod Hindocha, and her cousin, Nishma Hindocha, were visibly emotional during Qwabe’s evidence. Both had photographs of Anni pinned to their clothes, above their hearts.
Qwabe was testifying against his former co-accused, Xolile Mngeni, who he fingered as the gunman in the November 13, 2010, murder.
Mngeni has denied any involvement.
Qwabe has pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping, murder, aggravated robbery and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition for his role in the plot, allegedly orchestrated by Anni’s husband, Shrien Dewani.
The British couple were on honeymoon in Cape Town at the time of her murder. Shrien, who is still in England, is fighting extradition to SA to stand trial for her murder.
When asked whether the family accepted Qwabe’s apology, Anni’s father replied: “No comment.”
Qwabe spent most of the day explaining how he and two other men planned the murder.
He testified that on November 12, 2010, he received a call from a State witness – whose identity is being protected – informing him that he needed someone to do a job. The witness told Qwabe that shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo would contact him and explain what needed to be done.
Tongo was the first to enter into a plea and sentence agreement with the State and is serving a term of 18 years imprisonment for his role in the murder.
Qwabe testified that Mngeni had been with him when Tongo called him to say he needed a hit man.
Mngeni has denied that he was at Qwabe’s house that day.
“No I was with [Mngeni]. As I spoke to Zola I asked [Mngeni]: ‘Do you know anyone who can do such a thing and at what cost?’ [Mngeni] was the one who came up with the price of R15 000 and he said he can do it himself,” Qwabe testified.
The next day, Qwabe and Tongo met Mngeni and they discussed the plan. Later that day, Tongo – who was the couple’s designated shuttle driver while on tour in Cape Town – called Qwabe and said: “The husband wants the job to be done the same night.”
While Tongo drove the couple to a restaurant in Somerset West, Qwabe arranged with Mngeni to meet at a pre-arranged spot in Gugulethu.
Tongo drove the couple to Gugulethu and at the NY 112 and NY 108 intersection, Mngeni – armed with a 9mm Norinco pistol – staged the hijacking.
Tongo had been ordered to move to the back of the silver VW Sharan where Anni and Shrien Dewani were seated, Qwabe testified.
Qwabe, who was wearing yellow rubber kitchen gloves, jumped into the driver’s seat and Mngeni was seated in the passenger seat.
Qwabe testified that while he was not armed, he had given his unlicensed firearm, which he bought illegally, to Mngeni to use.
The “hijackers” ordered Tongo to get out of the vehicle and drove on the N2 and then to Khayelitsha.
Shrien was later also told to get out at Kuyasa Village in Khayelitsha.
“While driving between Ndlovini and Illitha Park, I heard the gunshot,” Qwabe said.
He stopped the vehicle and helped Mngeni look for the spent bullet casing. They found it and retrieved the money – only R10 000 – from a pouch behind the front passenger seat.
The duo abandoned the vehicle and left Anni to die. She had sustained one fatal gunshot wound to the neck.
Qwabe is expected to be cross-examined on Tuesday.