Zola Robert Tongo bows his head and shields his face from photographers while in the dock in the Western Cape High Court. Tongo pleaded guilty to playing a role in tourist Anni Dewanis murder and was sentenced to an effective 18 years in prison. Picture: Michael Walker

The “substantial facts” surrounding the murder of Anni Dewani are outlined in a plea and sentencing agreement struck between chauffeur Zola Robert Tongo and the State. Here, from papers before the Western Cape High Court, is Tongo’s version of events, in his own words.


I am in formal employment but I also freelance as a shuttle operator at the Cape Town International Airport.

For this latter purpose I make use of my private motor vehicle bearing registration number CF 160944, a silver grey Volkswagen Sharan.

On 12 November 2010, I was waiting for fares at the Airport when approached by Shrien Dewani, who requested me to convey him and his wife, Anni Dewani (the deceased), to the Cape Grace Hotel (the hotel) in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. After we arrived at the hotel, Shrien Dewani approached me alone and asked me if I knew anyone that could “have a client of his taken off the scene”. After some discussion with him I understood that he wanted someone, a woman, killed. He said he was willing to pay an amount of R15 000 (fifteen thousand rand). Shrien Dewani said he had US dollars and could pay in US dollars. He also asked if I knew of a place where he could exchange US dollars for rands without producing his passport and could get a better exchange rate than the Bureau de Change gave clients.

Later the same day, on 12 November 2010, I went to a friend of mine, Monde Mbolombo (Monde) to enquire whether he could assist me in sourcing anyone prepared to carry out the killing as requested by Shrien Dewani.

Monde put me in contact with Mziwamadoda Qwabe (Qwabe). This person is currently in custody awaiting trial in respect of his offences. I informed Monde that there would be R15 000 (fifteen thousand rand) for the job. Monde said that he wanted R5 000 (five thousand) for organising the hitman and that we should pay the hitman R10 000 (ten thousand rand).

On Saturday 13 November 2010 Shrien Dewani contacted me to meet him at the hotel. At approximately 12h00 I met Shrien Dewani. He asked me to take him to a place where he could exchange US dollars.

I took him to a place off Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. I entered the shop with him although I did not witness the transaction since we went into a room in the rear of the shop. After leaving the shop I took Shrien Dewani back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel he told me how he wanted the offence to be committed.

Shrien Dewani and I agreed that the offence would be perpetrated by enlisting the assistance of other parties to conceal the true nature of the offence. He would make it appear as if we were the victims of a random hijacking of my motor vehicle, committed with a firearm. The “hijacking” would be simulated. The agreement was that after the “hijacking” of the vehicle, both Shrien Dewani and I would be ejected from the vehicle unharmed, after which the deceased would be kidnapped and robbed, before she was murdered. The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to Shrien Dewani. For my assistance I would be paid R5 000 (five thousand rand).

During the course of the afternoon of Saturday 13 November 2010, I met with Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni (Mngeni) in Khayelitsha. Mngeni is also in custody awaiting trial in respect of this matter. During this meeting which took part in my motor vehicle, we planned how the simulated armed “hijacking” would take place.

We agreed that Shrien Dewani and I would be ejected from the vehicle and that the female occupant had to be killed. I informed Qwabe and Mngeni that they would receive R15 000 (fifteen thousand rand). Qwabe said that we had to leave the R15 000 in the cubby hole of the vehicle and that they would also take my cellular telephone during the “hijacking”.

I had arranged with Shrien Dewani that I would pick him up at the hotel at 19h30, in order to commence with the plan we had agreed upon.

On the evening of the 13 November 2010, due to other commitments that I had, I was late in collecting Shrien Dewani and the deceased. I arrived at the hotel sometime after 20h00 and by that time Shrien Dewani had already called me in an agitated state to find out where I was and the reason for the delay.

After collecting Shrien Dewani and the deceased I took them around some city sites before I proceeded in the direction of Gugulethu. The agreement with Mngeni and Qwabe was that they would meet us at the intersection of NY112 and NY108 in Gugulethu.

I drove to the agreed location but when I arrived there I notice that Qwabe and Mngeni were not present. I then proceeded to the N2 motorway in the direction of Somerset West.

I then drove to Surfside Restaurant in the Strand. Shrien Dewani and the deceased had supper in the restaurant. Prior to entering the restaurant Shrien Dewani asked me what has happening and said he wanted the job done that night.

While the Dewanis were having supper, Qwabe called me and confirmed that he and Mngeni had just missed me when I drove in to Gugulethu. I told him I was on my way to Somerset West. I had to cut the call since there was a police vehicle driving next to me.

Monde then contacted me and asked what was happening. Subsequently I spoke to Qwabe who confirmed that they would be waiting at the previously agreed location.

Shrien Dewani contacted me and wanted to know if I had arranged with the guys. I confirmed to Shrien Dewani that everything had been arranged.

Shrien Dewani and the deceased returned to my vehicle and we drove on the N2 motorway in the direction of Cape Town. While driving, either on the way to Somerset West or on our way back, I sent a text message to Shrien Dewani not to forget about the money. He answered by way of a text message that the money was in an envelope in a pouch in the front passenger seat.

I turned off the N2 in the direction of Nyanga and at the first set of robots I turned right toward Gugulethu.

I then drove to the spot we had agreed earlier at the intersection with NY112 and NY108.

It was at that stage that Mngeni and Qwabe approached the stationary vehicle. Mngeni positioned himself in the front of the vehicle and Qwabe was at my door pointing a firearm at me. I was instructed to open the doors, which I did by unlocking the vehicle’s central locking.

Qwabe got in at the driver’s side and Mngeni got in at the back. The Dewanis were made to lie down on the back seat and Qwabe drove off. Shrien Dewani and I continued to pretend that we were being “hijacked” by Mngeni and Qwabe.

Qwabe travelled for a short distance before he stopped near the police barracks in Gugulethu, where I was ordered to get out of the vehicle. They then drove off with Shrien Dewani and the deceased still in the vehicle.

I knew that Mngeni and Qwabe would not harm Shrien Dewani and that he would be dropped off at some further point. I also knew that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and murdered by Qwabe and Mngeni, after Shrien Dewani had been ejected from the vehicle in accordance with the plan. Although I was not present, I understand and admit that the deceased was subsequently murdered, by being shot, as we had all planned, in my motor vehicle with the registration CF160944, at or near Sinqolanthi Street, Ilitha Park, Khayelitsha.

Subsequent to the deceased’s death I met with Shrien Dewani at the hotel on 16 November 2010 where I received R1 000 as payment for my role in orchestrating the murder, robbery and kidnapping of the deceased. - Cape Times