South Africa 29.10.2014 06:31 pm

Tongo admits to ‘mistakes’ at Dewani Trial

FILE PICTURE: Zola Tongo (C). Picture: AFP

FILE PICTURE: Zola Tongo (C). Picture: AFP

Convicted shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo admitted on Wednesday to a few mistakes in relaying how honeymooner Anni Dewani’s murder came about in 2010.

Tongo, 34, made these concessions while being cross-examined by Shrien Dewani’s lawyer, Francois van Zyl, in the Western Cape High Court.

The first mistake related to when Dewani allegedly approached him with the proposal to kill his wife, when Tongo dropped the Dewanis off at the Cape Grace Hotel on November 13, 2010.

Dewani is on trial for the murder of Anni Dewani.

Tongo said he thought Dewani’s “business proposal” related to tours.

He only realised when Dewani returned from the hotel to speak with him inside the car that the proposal entailed murder.

Van Zyl referred to the statement Tongo made to police on November 26, 2010, in which he said Dewani went into great detail about the proposal before going to check in at the hotel.

However, it seemed from Tongo’s testimony in court that all Dewani told him before entering into the hotel was that he had a job.

He asked Tongo to explain the differences.

Tongo replied that it was a mistake and that Dewani did not go into detail about the job he had before checking in.

The lawyer asked why he would tell police that is what happened.

“Anyone can make a mistake,” Tongo said, pointing out that the lawyer had also made a mistake earlier when getting his initials wrong.

The public gallery laughed. Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso asked him to stick to answering the question.

“That was a mistake sir,” Tongo said.

Dewani is accused of the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes and defeating the ends of justice.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13, 2010. He was released unharmed and Anni 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 in return for R15,000.

Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices.

Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour two weeks ago. Mziwamadoda Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

Van Zyl pointed out that in his statement Tongo claimed that when he got to the Cape Grace Hotel on the evening of November 13, 2010, he picked up Dewani and the “same lady” who was with him at the airport a day earlier.

Tongo testified on Tuesday that he initially thought Anni was two people because her appearance had changed so dramatically in those two days, from casual to “beautiful”.

Van Zyl wanted to know why he said the “same lady” if he had thought they were two different people.

“I can see this is written and I signed it but I never said the same lady,” Tongo replied.

He said the police made a mistake.

Van Zyl said Lt-Col Mike Barkhuizen took the statement, was an experienced officer, and would have known how important a case like this was.

Tongo said he could not answer on Barkhuizen’s behalf.

“Why sir are you running away from the fact that it was Mr Dewani’s wife that was in your car and according to your evidence, was the person who needed to be killed?”

Tongo maintained he did not know it was Dewani’s wife who needed to be killed.

Van Zyl asked him why he never mentioned in his statement that Dewani said he would pay him R5000 once the job was done.

“I forgot to mention that,” Tongo said.

His cross-examination resumes on Thursday.

Sapa

 

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