Vinod Hindocha, the father of murdered honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani, wiped tears from his eyes as the Western Cape High Court was told how her new husband had arranged the plot to kill her in Cape Town.
Taxi driver Zola Tongo was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to the murder and claiming that Shrien Dewani had recruited him to find people to assist with a staged hijacking of his wife.
Shrien Dewani was revealed as the alleged mastermind behind the death of his wife Anni in a dramatic turn of events in the high profile honeymoon murder case. View our slideshow as the dramatic events unfolded at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday December 7 2010.
A Mail & Guardian investigation revealed two weeks ago that Shrien Dewani was a suspect in the police investigation. Two highly placed sources close to the investigation said if he returned voluntarily he would be arrested and charged, or else he would have to be extradited.
Tongo said he met the Dewani couple at the Cape Town airport. After dropping the newlyweds at a hotel, Shrien approached him alone and asked him if he knew of anyone that could “have a client taken off the scene”.
Tongo, who is a first-time offender and stood to get R1 000 for assisting, then found a friend who put him in touch with the murder accused. The friend said he wanted R5 000 for putting Tongo in touch with Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who was later arrested for the murder.
Tongo and Shrien contrived a plot to simulate a hijacking, said Tongo in his statement.
On the night of the murder, November 13, the plan went awry when the appointed killers were not waiting in Gugulethu as agreed. So they drove out to the Strand and had a meal and made a later arrangement in Gugulethu.
Tongo had agreed with Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni they would get R15 000 for the killing.
Cellphone records and one SMS reveal Shrien’s involvement.
In his statement, Tongo said he sent a text to Shrien that he should not forget about the money. He answered by text that the R15 000 was in an envelope in a pouch behind the passenger seat.
‘It is torture for us’
“We have been treated well and wish all involved to end this case. It is torture for us,” said Hindocha on the steps of the court.
Hindocha had been consulted by the National Prosecuting Authority as it put finishing touches to the plea and sentencing agreement of Tongo.
Sources close to the case said that Hindocha had flown to South Africa to have input into the process. Family members told the Mail & Guardian on Monday night the heartbroken father had missed the memorial service for his daughter on the weekend.
Anni’s body was found in Khayelitsha last month. The Dewani couple had taken a late-night detour through Gugulethu on the night of November 13.
Shrien claimed their taxi was hijacked by two armed men and that Tongo was released unharmed. Shrien alleged he was later pushed out of a window of the vehicle. The part-time model’s body was found the next day in the back seat of the taxi, with a single bullet wound to her head.
On Monday, the trials of the three men accused of her murder were separated by the court.
The trial of Mngeni and Qwabe has been set down for February 25 next year and their cases are subject to further investigation.