A new state witness in the Anni Dewani murder trial this afternoon identified accused Xolile Mngeni as having been in the same car as convicted taxi driver Zola Tongo on the Anni was kidnapped and killed in a staged hijacking.
Shuttle driver Zola Tongo was imprisoned for 18 years in December 2010 for the role he played in Anni Dewani’s murder on November 13 that year.
Tongo is believed to have assisted Anni’s newlywed husband Shrien Dewani in organising hitmen to murder Anni, who was kidnapped after the car Tongo was driving was hijacked in Gugulethu. Shrien survived the hijacking but Anni’s body was found inside the recovered car the next day.
The state witness, who may not be named, said on November 13, 2010 she was walking along the street in Khayelitsha when she saw Tongo, whom she had known for 17 years, sitting in a parked car.
“I saw Ponono (Tongo) and he came out of the car and we greeted. I asked him what he was doing in Khayelitsha and he replied that he was visiting friends.
“I asked him to show me the friends and when I looked at the friends I saw Wati (Mngeni) and another gentleman,” said the witness.
She said she had known Mngeni since 1995.
She said Tongo was sitting in the driver’s seat while Mngeni and the other man, whom she did not know, were seated at the back of the car.
She described the car as in beige in colour and the model as a “kombi-like”.
Her description loosely fits the colour and make of the shuttle taxi Tongo drove, a dusty gold VW Sharan in which Anni’s body was found on November 14, 2010.
The witness said during the week after Anni’s murder she was asked by investigating officer Paul Hendricks to identify suspects at an identity parade at the Manenberg police station.
She identified Mngeni and Tongo.
The state believes the third man in the car was Mziwamadoda Qwabe who has pleaded guilty to murdering Anni Dewani and was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this month.
Mngeni has pleaded not guilty and his trial has been delayed due to his suffering from a malignant brain tumour.
Shrien Dewani, who is in the UK receiving treatment for mental illness and depression, faces charges related to Anni’s murder in South African and is currently the subject of extradition proceedings. – Sandiso Phaliso