Mngeni and Qwabe were friends: witness


Xolile Mngeni DONE

INLSA

Xolile Mngeni. File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - A man on trial for Anni Dewani's murder was friends with one of her convicted killers Mziwamadoda Qwabe, a witness told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

“I've seen them now and then. I've seen them together,” Xolile Mngeni's friend said.

The friend, 26, who cannot be identified, said Mngeni often used his cellphone and had added Qwabe's cellphone number to his contacts list.

“When Watti (Mngeni's nickname) lost his phone, he wanted to be in touch with this person and used my phone.”

Dewani was killed in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010, in an apparent hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien.

Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail sentence for his role in the murder.

Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Qalisile Dayimani previously told the court his client would deny ever being friends with Qwabe.

He would put it to the court that Qwabe was friends with Mngeni's older brother and knew of him only because they lived in the same area.

The State entered a download of the witness's cellphone contact list as an exhibit. It also added a download of Qwabe's cellphone contacts.

The witness confirmed to prosecutor Shareen Riley that the contact listed as “Spra” on his phone was Qwabe.

Riley asked if he knew Qwabe.

“He was staying in a street in C-section (Khayelitsha), but far from me. He's not a friend of mine,” the witness said.

He was then asked to look at Qwabe's cellphone contacts and confirmed that the number under the contact “Mawatana” belonged to Mngeni.

Judge Robert Henney adjourned the matter until Thursday, to allow Dayimani time to prepare for cross-examination.

The lawyer had objected to the State providing him, on Tuesday, with two of the documents it intended using. He said this prejudiced his client's right to a fair trial as he could not adequately prepare and therefore needed a postponement.

The State said it had given him everything timeously; most documents had been handed to him months beforehand.

Henney had allowed the witness to begin testimony on the condition that cross-examination take place at a later stage.

The lawyer had also objected to the introduction of the cellphone records, and said he had not been given a copy. The State said it gave these to him last week.

Before Mngeni was escorted out the court room, the judge asked if he had received food. He has ordered that Mngeni be fed more often as he is on cancer medication and fell ill on Tuesday.

Mngeni stood up and showed Henney a wrapped sandwich and an orange. He then shook the items in the air and said something in Xhosa.

The translator told Henney: “He's saying it's plain bread.”

Mngeni said the bread was dry and it was not suitable to take with his medication.

A policeman informed the court this was just a snack and that Mngeni would be fed a proper lunch in the holding cells.

Mngeni told the court he would be given exactly the same - a sandwich and orange.

“I can't order them to give you anything else,” Henney said.

He asked Mngeni's family be contacted and told to bring other food. - Sapa


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