Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

'Dewani hitman' to be sentenced

Xolile Mngen sits in the dock of a courtroom in Cape Town, South Africa (AP/Schalk van Zuydam)

A hitman allegedly hired by British businessman Shrien Dewani to kill his bride on their South African honeymoon is due to be sentenced for murder.

Prosecutors believe Xolile Mngeni pulled the trigger after he was recruited to carry out the assassination in an attack designed to resemble a car hijacking.

Mngeni, 25, was found guilty of premeditated murder last month after a judge at the Western Cape High Court heard an "avalanche of evidence" against him. Dewani, 32, now remains the only suspect yet to face trial in South Africa in connection with the murder of his Swedish wife Anni, 28.

Earlier this week, Westminster Magistrates Court heard that Dewani was now terrified to travel by car, but may be fit to face trial next year.

He denies orchestrating the killing in Cape Town's impoverished Gugulethu township on November 13 2010 and the businessman, who has been held at Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health hospital in Bristol, is fighting extradition to South Africa.

Mngeni was convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as the murder charge. But he was acquitted of Mrs Dewani's kidnapping.

Mrs Dewani was shot as the newlyweds travelled by taxi through the outskirts of Cape Town. Her husband and the driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before she was driven away and killed. She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.

Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime. This came after he claimed in a plea agreement that Dewani ordered the carjacking and paid for a hit on his wife. Another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.

Both Tongo and Qwabe claimed Dewani wanted it to appear as if he had nothing to do with his wife's murder. As part of his plea deal, Qwabe provided a statement detailing how he and Mngeni staged the carjacking.

Mngeni was linked to the murder after his left palm print was found on the taxi. He is due to be sentenced at Cape Town High Court.

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