Dewani defence disputes gunman identity

Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe. (Gallo)

Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe. (Gallo)

Convicted killer Mziwamadoda Qwabe repeatedly denied in the Western Cape High Court on Monday that he shot dead honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani in a hijacked vehicle in 2010.

Francois van Zyl, for Anni’s husband, murder-accused Shrien Dewani, told Qwabe during cross-examination in the Western Cape High Court on Monday that all the evidence pointed to him pulling the trigger and not his accomplice Xolile Mngeni, who is serving life in jail.

“I have to put it to you, sir, that your version that Mngeni shot the deceased is not true. What do you say to that? You were the person who shot the deceased,” Van Zyl said.

“At the time you were doing so, based on the objective facts, you were most probably standing at the left rear door, pulling her with your right hand, threatening her with the pistol against her chest.”

Qwabe disagreed with Van Zyl and stuck to his version that he was driving the vehicle when he heard the shot being fired.

Dewani, sitting in the dock, seemed frustrated and shook his head every now and then at Qwabe’s answers.

Van Zyl said the firearm in question had to be cocked before firing and asked whether he recalled Mngeni cocking it.

He added that Dewani remembered a gun clicking when Mngeni threatened him over his cellphone at the back of the vehicle.

Qwabe said he could not recall hearing or seeing anything because he was focused on driving.

Not guilty plea
Dewani is accused of masterminding the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to five counts against him, maintaining that the couple were the victims of a hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, on November 13 2010.

Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term, and shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo is serving 18 years.

Van Zyl said Tongo’s statement indicated that he observed two men walking towards his vehicle at the intersection that night and both had firearms.

He said the first man, Qwabe, got into the driver’s seat and pushed him to the passenger seat while the second man got into the back with the couple.

He said Qwabe put a firearm against his head a short while later and ordered him to get out of the vehicle.

Qwabe denied this version of events and said there was only one firearm.

Van Zyl proceeded to explain how it would have been impossible, on Qwabe’s version, for Mngeni to have shot Anni from the front passenger seat.

He said they had gone to visit Mngeni in prison and measured his right arm from the hand to the elbow.
It measured 55.5cm.

The distance between the front seat and where Anni Dewani was sitting in the back was 80cm.

“Even if he was standing on his knees on the front seat, leaning over, he couldn’t have reached the lady, the deceased’s hand, to fire the shot,” the lawyer said.

Qwabe replied that his version was the only one he knew because that was what happened.

Glove as evidence
Van Zyl asked that the glove Qwabe wore that night, and which later tested positive for primer residue, be shown to him and deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso.

Van Zyl said the piece of glove that tested positive was cut out between the thumb and forefinger joint.

Qwabe said his glove could have picked up primer residue because the space in the car was very small and the windows were closed. He had also picked up the bullet casing afterwards.

Van Zyl replied that the location of the residue was in line with contact that would have been made with firing a gun, not picking up a bullet casing.

The lawyer maintained that Qwabe’s version could not be true.

He said their experts would testify that someone was either sitting next to Anni when the shot was fired, or that someone was standing at the rear door from the outside, grabbing her leg and threatening her. – Sapa

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