Johan Hanekom, a police fingerprint expert, testified in the trial of Anni Dewani murder accused Xolile Mngeni last week. Picture Brenton Geach
Johan Hanekom, a police fingerprint expert, testified in the trial of Anni Dewani murder accused Xolile Mngeni last week. Picture Brenton Geach

Anni murder sleuth testifies

By Time of article published Aug 27, 2012

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Caryn Dolley

TWENTY-ONE hours and 46 minutes after the day Anni Dewani was murdered, police were on the verge of discovering the identity of the alleged triggerman.

Fifty-one minutes before midnight, they had a name – Xolile Mngeni.

Details about the intense round-the-clock investigations that took place following Anni’s killing on November 13, 2010, were revealed in the Western Cape High Court last week during Mngeni’s trial, which has been running for nearly two weeks.

Johan Hanekom, a police warrant officer and fingerprint expert, testified and was cross-examined about his role in the probe.

Anni was found murdered in the back of a Volkswagen Sharan in Sinqolanthi Street, Khayelitsha in the early hours of November 14 two years ago.

The State believes her husband, Shrien Dewani, masterminded her killing.

Mngeni, fingered as the triggerman in the case, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, robbing and murdering Anni.

Last week, Hanekom testified about his actions in the hours after she was discovered killed.

He said on November 14, 2010:

l Between 9.06am and 12.15pm, Hanekom was at the murder scene in Khayelitsha.

Photographs were taken at the scene.

l At 3.53pm, he received a call asking him to go to the police’s vehicle depot in Stikland.

At the depot, after a forensic investigation was done on the vehicle, he used a black powder to dust for prints on a silver Volkswagen Sharan, the vehicle Anni was found shot in.

He lifted prints from the vehicle.

l At 9.46pm, Hanekom arrived at the police’s criminal record centre in Paarl where he scanned in the lifted prints onto the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (Afis), a database of prints of arrested and convicted suspects.

The Afis provided 10 possible matches to a left palm print lifted from the vehicle.

Hanekom then manually compared the 10 matches with the vehicle print and found one of the Afis prints matched it. He took down the Afis print’s reference number, 2005BKK826. This Afis palm print was taken in 2005.

l At 11.09pm, Hanekom asked a woman working at the criminal record centre to check the reference number for a name. He was told a name, which he incorrectly spelled “Zolile” Mngeni.

Hanekom testified that one of Mngeni’s prints were found on the vehicle, as well as two of chauffeur Zola Tongo’s, who shortly after Anni’s murder had pleaded guilty to his role in her killing and was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.

Hanekom testified that glove prints had also been found on the vehicle.

He said that a left palm print lifted from the vehicle matched the Afis print of Mngeni’s, his other prints taken by the case’s investigating officer Paul Hendrikse and fresh prints taken from Mngeni in court last week.

Hanekom said he had lifted 24 other prints from the vehicle, but these were yet to be identified.

Last week, an album of various photographs taken of prints lifted from the vehicle, photographs of the crime scene, the exterior and interior of the vehicle, as well as photographs of other items, was handed in as evidence.

Hanekom said the album included a picture of the shoes Anni had been wearing.

He testified that the shoes were a pair of black and silver “Princess” ones, with the number 36.

The trial continues today.

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