Dewani witness: ‘A husband wanted his wife killed’

Mziwamadoda Qwabe has testified that he received a call from Monde Mbolombo on Friday November 12 2010 to say someone wanted a job done.

“He basically said someone wanted someone to be killed,” he said in answer to a question from prosecutor Adrian Mopp. Qwabe was testifying for the state as its second witness in the trial of Shrien Dewani, who is accused of the murder of his wife Anni during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Dewani maintains they were hijacked while being driven through Gugulethu in a shuttle bus on November 13 2010. He was apparently forced out and the hijackers drove off with Anni. Her body was found on the back seat of the shuttle the next day. The state alleges Dewani conspired with others to stage the hijacking.

Qwabe said he would help and that Mbolombo could forward his cellphone number to the man who wanted the job done, later identified as Zola Tongo. Tongo phoned him later in the day and confirmed that a hitman job was available. Qwabe was sitting at home with his friend Xolile Mngeni when he got the call and asked him if he was interested. Mngeni, whose nickname is Watti, said he would do the job for R15 000.

Xolile Mngeni, one of the men convicted for the murder of Anni Dewani. (Reuters)

Qwabe said he and Tongo agreed to meet near a shopping centre in Khayelitsha the following day. Tongo called him numerous times on Saturday morning, November 13 2010, and said he would be in a silver VW Sharan. They met and Qwabe got into the car. 

“He said there was a husband who wanted his wife to be killed … It had to look like a hijacking.” 

At this point in Qwabe’s testimony, Dewani pursed his lips and shook his head slowly before putting his head down to write notes. 

Qwabe said he phoned Mngeni and asked where he was. Tongo drove them there and the three men sat and spoke in the vehicle. “We agreed on where the hijacking was going to happen, the corner of NY112 and NY118.”

The conversation in the car took between 20 and 30 minutes. It was agreed that nothing would happen to the husband during the hijacking and that the R15 000 would be left in the glove compartment. Mopp asked if they had discussed when the hijacking would take place. Qwabe said Tongo had promised to call them when he was at the couple’s hotel, which would be around 7pm or 7.30pm that evening. 

There was no discussion as to how or where the wife would be killed. Mopp asked if a murder weapon had been chosen. “I knew I had a gun and Watti also knew I had a gun. It was illegal,” he said.

The ‘hijacking’
Tongo called Qwabe after 8pm on November 13 2010 and said he was leaving the hotel where the couple were staying. Tongo drove the shuttle bus the Dewanis were in. Qwabe phoned Mngeni and they decided to meet in Gugulethu, Cape Town. On their way to Gugulethu, on the N2 highway, Tongo phoned them around 9pm and said he had already left Gugulethu and was on his way to Somerset West. They decided to go back to Khayelitsha and parted ways. 

Tongo phoned him later that evening and said he was at a restaurant in Somerset West. “He said the husband wanted his wife to be killed that same evening,” Qwabe said. Qwabe and Mngeni made their way to a tavern, Sop’s Place, and arranged with a man named Mawanda to give them a lift back to Gugulethu. When they got to Gugulethu, they made their way on foot to the intersection where they had agreed the hijacking would happen, about 120m away. 

Xolile Mngeni (left) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe (right). (Reuters)

“At that time I had yellow kitchen gloves on, for [hiding my] fingerprints.” He got a text message from Tongo saying he was on his way. While he was relieving himself against a fence, Mngeni told him a car was approaching. When the car arrived, Mngeni pointed a gun at the driver. Qwabe got into the driver’s seat and Mngeni into the front passenger seat. Tongo moved to the back seat where there was a “guy and lady”. 

He drove the vehicle and Mngeni “calmed” the passengers by asking them to keep quiet and not try anything. Qwabe said he could not see the reactions of the passengers as he was focused on driving. He stopped at an intersection facing the police barracks and ordered Tongo out of the car. “As he was getting out, he said the money was in the pouch behind the front passenger door.”

He started the vehicle again and drove along the N2 towards Khayelitsha. He took the Baden Powell Drive off-ramp and went through Kuyasa and eNkanini. He stopped the vehicle between Harare and Kuyasa and asked the husband to get out of the car, go to one of the nearby houses and report the hijacking. Mopp asked what Dewani’s reaction was. “I don’t recall,” he said.

Qwabe drove off with Mngeni and Anni Dewani towards Mew Way in Khayelitsha. “While I am there between Ilitha Park and Ndlovini, I hear a gunshot, and after the gunshot I got a shock and turned into the first turn-off into Ilitha Park.” 

He asked Mngeni what he had done. He replied that he “shot the lady”. Qwabe stopped the car and saw Mngeni look for the bullet casing. Qwabe helped him and found it on the floor in the back of the car. As they walked away, Qwabe said he threw the bullet casing into a storm-water drain. Mngeni showed him a silver digital camera and three phones – two BlackBerry cellphones and a brown Nokia. He recognised the brown phone as Tongo’s. Mngeni took out the money he had retrieved from the car pouch. 

“We counted the money while we were walking and it only comes to R10 000. He shows me another stack of some R4 000 that he said he got from the husband,” Qwabe said. Qwabe parted ways with Mngeni and went to a party. Mngeni left with the firearm.

A glance at the body
“I took a glance, yes. She was in the back seat. I think she was lying [down] but I can’t recall whether it was the left or right-hand side,” he told Mopp. 

He said he did not check to see if she had survived the shooting.

The following day, he called Monde Mbolombo because the “hit” money was R5 000 short. Mbolombo apparently said he would sort it out with Tongo, who drove the shuttle bus for the Dewanis. Qwabe said Mngeni arrived at his house later to return his firearm. Qwabe was arrested the following Thursday, taken to Bellville and asked questions about the crime, which he initially denied having been involved in. 

Qwabe was allowed to meet Mngeni and asked him: “Did you tell the police everything?” Mngeni said he had confessed to everything and Qwabe decided he would co-operate with the police. He took the police to where he kept his firearm and in the next two days gave a statement and pointed out where he had thrown away the bullet casing and his yellow kitchen gloves. The items were recovered in his presence. 

Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his role in the crime, in terms of a plea and sentencing agreement reached in August 2012. Mngeni is serving life for pulling the trigger of the gun, while Tongo is serving 18 years in jail. – Sapa

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