Accused ‘paid a cabbie to have wife murdered’
Shrien Dewani arranged to have his new bride murdered after striking a deal with a taxi driver in South Africa where they were on their honeymoon, the High Court in Cape Town heard.
The case of the British businessman who escaped unharmed on the night Anni Dewani (28) was killed in an apparent carjacking has been the subject of furious speculation and leaks by police in South Africa.
Yesterday, sensational claims were made before the High Court by taxi driver Zola Tongo, who was jailed for 18 years for his part in the killing after making a plea agreement with the prosecutors. He alleged that |Mr Dewani had offered him R15,000 (£1,300) to hire |hitmen.
As the South African authorities said that Mr Dewani's extradition from the UK “was likely to be considered”, his publicist Max Clifford described the allegations as “totally ludicrous and very hurtful”.
The couple, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, had only been married for a fortnight when they were held at gunpoint on the night of November 13.
They had eaten dinner in the Cape Winelands region when they asked their taxi driver to take them to Gugulethu to see some of “the real Africa”.
The Volkswagen Sharan they were driven in was carjacked shortly after 10pm when the gunman forced Mr Dewani and Tongo from the car.
Mr Dewani (31) said he was thrown out of a window of the hijacked taxi after pleading with the attackers to release him and his wife.
Mrs Dewani's body was discovered the next day in the abandoned car in another township on the outskirts of Cape Town. The Swedish-born engineer is believed to have been shot three times.
Yesterday Tongo (31), |in his formal admission claimed he had been waiting for fares at Cape Town International Airport when the couple asked to be driven to the five-star Cape Grace hotel.
“After we arrived at the hotel, Shrien Dewani approached me alone and asked me if I knew anyone that could ‘have a client of his taken off the scene',” Tongo said.
“After some discussion with him, I understood that he wanted someone, a woman, killed. He said he was willing to pay an amount of R15,000 (£1,300). Shrien Dewani said he could pay in US dollars.”
Later that day, Tongo claimed he spoke to a friend and was put in touch with Xolile Mnguni (23) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe (25), both of whom are from Khayelitsha. The pair are due to appear at Wynberg Regional Court on February 25 to face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.
Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Rodney de Kock, told Judge President John Hlophe: “The alleged hijacking was in fact not a hijacking but part of a plan of subterfuge.”