State says Dewani killers were unprofessional, amateur

The men who planned to kill honeymooner Anni Dewani did not discuss finer details because they were not professionals, the high court in the Western Cape heard on Tuesday.

“We know these individuals were not the A-team of contract killers. They could barely organise transport from Khayelitsha to Gugulethu,” said prosecutor Adrian Mopp. “We are dealing with an amateurish attempt. If it were not for the killing of the deceased, it would actually be comical, the manner in which this matter was set about.” 

He was presenting argument during an application by Anni’s husband Shrien’s legal team to discharge him of his wife’s killing in November 2010. Mopp argued that certain people, with their world view, would expect a level of sophistication in the planning.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso said two of the hitmen, Zola Tongo and Monde Mbolombo, had fairly sophisticated jobs before losing them. Mopp replied that may be so, but they were not involved in serious crime and had “vulnerabilities” that made them susceptible to being drawn into this world. 

He added that fellow “hitmen” Mzimamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni were in a different category where they had access to illegal firearms and were unemployed.

Defence seeks dismissal
On Monday, Traverso had spoken about the seemingly disorganised plan that the men allegedly organised together. The defence and the state filed heads of argument for the discharge application last week.

Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides that if at the close of the prosecution’s case, the court believes there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, it may return a verdict of not guilty. The state closed its case a week ago.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with Tongo and others to kill Anni while they were on honeymoon on Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice. 

He claims the couple was hijacked while Tongo drove them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday November 13 2010.

He was released unharmed and Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning. The state alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking, for which he paid R15 000. He maintains that Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for R15 000.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term and Qwabe, a 25-year jail term. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18. 

Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution on two charges during Mngeni’s trial, but was warned he faced possible prosecution on various charges if he did not testify truthfully during Dewani’s trial. – Sapa

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