Mngeni ‘wanted to make statement’

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Copy of dewani mngeni INLSA Xolile Mngeni. Photo: Brendan Magaar

Cape Town - A man accused of killing honeymooner Anni Dewani wanted to make a statement to police even though no lawyer was present, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

A video played in court showed Xolile Mngeni being asked questions by Justice of the Peace, Captain Adolf Jonker, in Bellville, Cape Town, on the evening of November 16, 2010.

Mngeni, through an interpreter, told Jonker he was “just a bit scared of the other guy, the one who did this”.

When he showed doubt about making an admission, Jonker repeatedly said the recording could be stopped until Mngeni had consulted with a lawyer.

After a lengthy period of deciding what to do, Mngeni told Jonker: “I can give a statement now, (and) then I can take a lawyer when I'm in court as a lawyer (now) is going to delay.”

The court was hearing a trial-within-a-trial to determine whether the State could admit into the court record a statement Mngeni made to the police.

The defence objected to the admission of the statement, contending that it was not valid for a number of reasons.

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

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

The State wanted to use the statement, containing “incriminating admissions”, during cross-examination later in the trial.

Qalisile Dayimani, for Mngeni, alleged he was viciously assaulted during interrogation preceding the statement.

He also argued that Mngeni's pleas for legal representation were ignored, that he was told what to say by the officers interrogating him, and that the lengthy interrogation put him under pressure to make a statement.

At one point in the video, Mngeni was asked to take off his green shirt and blue jacket so Jonker could see if he had been assaulted.

When Mngeni took off his top, no marks were visible on his chest or arms. There were also no marks visible on his back.

Jonker reminded Mngeni that he could be given protection if he felt threatened. He could also file a complaint with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Dayimani interrupted the playing of the video at times to object to the way in which the interpreter had translated Jonker's statements to Mngeni.

He told Judge Robert Henney that critical information had not been relayed to Mngeni.

The video was replayed for the court interpreter to decide whether the translation was correct. He concluded the gist of what Jonker had said was accurately conveyed to Mngeni at the time.

Dayimani eventually conceded that Mngeni had been accurately informed of his rights.

Henney criticised Dayimani for wasting the court's time.

The trial continues. - Sapa


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