3 minute read
5 Nov 2014
2:23 pm

Dewani gave out money, thank-you cards

British businessman Shrien Dewani gave many thank you cards after the death of his wife Anni in 2010, including to his hired shuttle taxi driver, his lawyer told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

FILE PICTURE: Shrien Dewani, British murder accused, sits in the Cape Town High Court, waiting for his trial to start, on October 06, 2014, in Cape Town. Picture: AFP

Francois van Zyl said the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town organised a lift for his client to a shopping mall at the V&A Waterfront to avoid media attention. He bought 10 hand-made cards of African design, which he put into a plastic bag.

Dewani gave one of these cards and R1000 to driver Zola Tongo the same day, on November 16, 2010, and thanked him. A few other people also received a card.

“Sir, whether they sent a card to the minister or one to the president, it doesn’t concern me. He never gave me a card,” Tongo told Van Zyl during cross-examination.

Tongo, 34, who is the State’s 12th witness, said he only got R1000 out of a promised R5000 commission for his role in Anni’s murder.

He is serving an 18-year jail term as part of a plea bargain.

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

He claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13.

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.

Van Zyl was trying to show that Dewani was not part of the plot, and that surveillance footage of him and Tongo at the hotel on November 16 was an innocent exchange rather than Tongo’s commission being paid over.

Van Zyl said Dewani gave a thank you card and R500 to the police captain who helped his family and drove them to see Anni’s body at the morgue.

A certain Patel family received a thank you card without money for their support.

“A considerable sum was also paid to the staff of the Cape Grace who assisted him in this period, to be specific it was R15,000,” Van Zyl said.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso joked with the Xhosa interpreter that she hoped she was not going to go and work at the Cape Grace Hotel, causing the court room to erupt in laughter.

Tonga chirped in: “It surprises me that he gave such a considerable amount to people but he could not pay me,” which even caused Traverso to smile a little.

The court was shown footage of Tongo walking out of the hotel with a plastic bag in his hand. Dewani had given it to him in the hotel’s communications room.

A close-up was shown of the bag and Van Zyl asked the court to be aware that there seemed to be something inside. Tongo denied the bag had anything it.

He has been on the stand for a week and appeared irritable. Traverso said she noticed he was getting very angry and asked him to try to remain calm and answer as best he could.

“I know Mr Van Zyl must be irritating you,” she said.

– Sapa