The evidence of some state witness testifying in the Dewani murder trial should be rejected as fabrication, argued accused Xolile Mngeni’s defence attorney today.
During his closing argument in the Cape High Court, defence attorney Qalisile Dayimani told presiding Judge Robert Henney that convicted Mziwamadoda Qwabe had “framed the accused and put the blame on him”.
Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years in August for his part in the murder of Swedish newlywed Anni Dewani, and had fingered Mngeni as the one who fired the shot that killed her.
The state contends that Qwabe and Mngeni acted in concert, having hijacked the vehicle Anni and her husband Shrien Dewani were being transported in earlier on the fateful evening of November 13, 2010.
Dayimani did not dispute that Mngeni’s palm print was found on the bonnet of the silver VolksWagen Sharan in which Anni’s body was found but said Mngeni may have leant against the car earlier that day when he was called to the car by Qwabe, who asked him if he had a buyer for two cellphones.
Dayimani asked Henney to reject the testimony of a state witness who said he had driven Mngeni and Qwabe to Gugulethu on the night of November 13, 2010 and dropped them off at the spot where Anni was hijacked.
Dayimani argued that at the witnesses own admission, he was “under the influence of alcohol” on the night in question.
He said the witness was not even sure how many people were in the car in which Mngeni and Qwabe were allegedly driven to Gugulethu.
Furthermore, Dayimani said the testimony of another state witness who said they saw Mngeni handling a gun in a particular shack on the afternoon before Anni was killed should be rejected as another witness disputed that the person had been in the shack.
This same witness was a police informant who passed information about Mngeni’s alleged involvement in Anni’s murder only after Mngeni’s arrest on November 16, 2010.
“We begin to wonder why would he pass the information but the accused had already been arrested?” said Dayimani, adding that “he fabricated the evidence with (the) assistance of police”. “This witness fabricated and modified his testimony.”
Visibly irritated, Henney responded: “There are things he (the witness) could not have known about, even the police would not have known about.”
However, Henney said he accepted there were contradictions in the witnesses’ versions.
Furthermore Dayimani said the community members, where Mngeni lives, conspired against him as they had conversations amongst themselves about the people involved in the crime.
Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, murder, possession of unlicensed firearm and illegal ammunition.
Qwabe is currently serving his 25-years jail time for his role in the murder while taxi driver Zola Tongo was sentenced to 18-years in jail for his role in the murder.
The state alleges Shrien Dewani asked Tongo to organise a hitman to kill his bride.
Shrien, who is a UK citizen and was allowed to return home shortly after the murder, is involved involved in extradition hearings in the UK.
The trial continues. – Sandiso Phaliso