Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Third Dewani killer jailed for life

A judge branded Xolile Mngeni, who shot Mrs Dewani, 'a merciless and evil person'

A third man has been jailed for life for his part in the killing of honeymooner Anni Dewani in South Africa.

A judge branded Xolile Mngeni, who shot Mrs Dewani, "a merciless and evil person" who deserved the maximum punishment for his crime which prosecutors say was organised by her British husband Shrien.

Judge Robert Henney did not hold back his contempt while sentencing Mngeni for the killing of 28-year-old Mrs Dewani and said that the shooter showed no remorse.

"He had no regard to her right to freedom, dignity, and totally disregarded and showed no respect to her right to life by brutally killing her with utter disdain," Judge Henney said.

Mngeni, who had surgery to remove a brain tumour while facing trial in Cape Town, at times sat with his face resting on the bannister of the dock on top of his crossed arms. Mrs Dewani's family members, wearing black clothes and with pictures of the young woman pinned above their left breasts, stared at him.

In August Mngeni's accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to charges over the killing, receiving a 25-year prison sentence. Zola Tongo, the taxi driver that police say Shrien Dewani asked to plot the killing, earlier received an 18-year prison sentence.

Both Tongo and Qwabe have said Mr Dewani wanted it to look like he was not involved his wife's death and they planned to have the attack look like a carjacking in Cape Town's impoverished Gugulethu township. The men were paid about £1,500 for the killing.

In a statement provided as part of his plea deal, Qwabe said that after he and Mngeni staged a fake carjacking, he drove the car as Mngeni kept a pistol pointed at Mrs Dewani in the backseat and then pulled the trigger, the fatal shot going through her neck. Panicked, Qwabe said he stopped the car and got out, helping Mngeni find the spent bullet casing. He threw the casing into a sewer as they ran away into the night.

Mr Dewani has denied he hired anyone to kill his wife and was allowed to leave South Africa for the United Kingdom, where he was later arrested. His lawyer told the court in July that he needed at least a year to recover from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder before being potentially sent back to South Africa.

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