Cape Town -
Audio recordings have revealed there may have been an unidentified fifth person involved in the conspiracy to murder Shrien Dewani’s honeymoon bride.
The sound clips were heard in the Western Cape High Court for the first time on Tuesday, during the cross-examination of Zola Tongo, who was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in jail for his role in staging the hijacking in which Anni Hindocha was killed.
Dewani’s senior counsel, advocate Francois van Zyl, explained that the audio was taken from inside the Protea Hotel, where Monde Mbolombo – who helped arrange the hit men – worked as a receptionist in 2010.
It has been Dewani’s legal team’s repeated assertion that Mbolombo was more than just a middleman.
In one clip – a phone call between Tongo and Mbolombo, which took place a few hours before Hindocha’s murder on November 13, 2010 – the receptionist says: “There’s five of us, remember.”
The audio quality is poor, it constantly drops out, and a ringing phone drowns out sections of the conversation, which can only be heard from Mbolombo’s side. Only detailed billing information confirms that it was Tongo on the other end of the line.
“Can you tell the court why five?” asked Van Zyl.
Tongo said Mbolombo had included himself, the taxi driver, the two hit men and “Mr Dewani” in his calculations. In the dock, the businessman stared at the witness, his brow furrowed into a deep frown.
“Why count Mr Dewani?” asked Van Zyl.
“Because he was part of the conspiracy to kill the business partner.” In his testimony, Tongo said he was told he was arranging a “hit” on Dewani’s colleague or a client.
Dewani almost laughed, bending over his notes to cover up a small smile spreading across his face. Tongo kept his eyes on Judge Jeanette Traverso as Van Zyl considered his next question.
The lawyer said in the context of payment, including Dewani in the head count didn’t make any sense. But Tongo stuck to his story.
In the same audio clip, Mbolombo said the car needed to be “washed”. Van Zyl asked if this was to remove fingerprints, but Tongo replied that this was a reference to the carwash near Mbolombo’s home where he wanted the hit men to abandon the vehicle.
On Tuesday, Tongo testified that he was a “fool” for involving himself in the crime. This is just one of many discrepancies that have seen parts of the taxi driver’s testimony unravel.
Court was adjourned at 4pm and was set to resume at 11.30am on Wednesday.