Cape Town - Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo may have been more than the middleman who set up honeymooner Anni Hindocha's murder, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.
Francois van Zyl, for murder accused Shrien Dewani, told convicted killer Mziwamadoda Qwabe during cross-examination that his claims about Mbolombo only being the link did not add up.
He handed up a timeline of the events that unfolded in November 2010, which the defence team compiled using CCTV footage of the Protea Hotel Colosseum in Cape Town where Mbolombo worked, and other records.
“If you look at all of this and the calls that Monde made to you... Monde was not just a linkman between you and (taxi driver Zola) Tongo. It went further than the link,” he told Qwabe.
“During the time that this hijack was supposed to occur, he had spoken to you in person a number of times. And surely it was not just to make idle conversation, was it?”
Qwabe said the men had missed their first opportunity to play out the sham hijacking and that Mbolombo was trying to convey that it had to be done the same day.
Van Zyl said it looked like Mbolombo was instructing him.
Qwabe replied the instruction must have come from Tongo.
The lawyer said Tongo would surely have phoned him directly instead of conveying a message through Mbolombo.
Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution after testifying for the State in the trial of convicted gunman Xolile Mngeni.
Mngeni was jailed for life, Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term, and Tongo 18 years.
The State alleges Dewani approached Tongo, his shuttle taxi driver, and asked him to find a hitman.
Anni Hindocha was shot dead in an apparent hijacking on November 13, 2010, during their honeymoon in Cape Town, while Tonga was driving them through Gugulethu in his shuttle bus.
Dewani has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes, and defeating the ends of justice.
Van Zyl proceeded to explain evidence that backed up his assertion that Mbolombo was more involved than Qwabe claimed.
He said Mbolombo made an affidavit last month that indicated he was initially meant to attend the planning meeting between the men on the Saturday, November 13, 2010 that Anni was killed.
Mbolombo said in the affidavit he failed to attend the meeting because Tongo was late in picking him up and he needed to get to work.
Qwabe said he could not recall that but could also not dispute it.
Van Zyl referred to the hotel's CCTV footage and audio recordings from the hotel desk.
They transcribed a recording of Mbolombo on the hotel phone to someone, assumed to be Tongo, on the Saturday of the killing.
In it, Mbolombo is heard telling Tongo that the “young men” wanted white gloves like the ones used by doctors.
“I do not know anything about white gloves. I never discussed white gloves with Monde,” Qwabe replied.
Van Zyl said it was clear from the conversation that Mbolombo was part of the planning.
Qwabe was asked where he eventually got the yellow gloves that he used to cover his fingerprints while driving Tongo's hijacked shuttle taxi. He replied he had a pair at home.
“You used yellow domestic gloves that one uses for washing dishes and work at the house?” Van Zyl asked in surprise.
Qwabe said he did.
The lawyer presented Qwabe with a number of calls he received from Mbolombo that Saturday evening, as further proof that he was not merely a middleman but an active co-ordinator.
Qwabe said he could not dispute that the calls were made, but said he could not remember what the conversation was about.
He repeated his claim that the hotel receptionist was merely a middleman approached by Tongo to find a hitman.
* After a request from her family, we will now refer to the victim as Anni Hindocha. Anni was a Hindocha at the time of her death because she and Shrien Dewani only had a traditional Hindu marriage ceremony, not a civil union.