Mbolombo, 35, said during cross-examination that when he saw his ex-colleague Mziwamadoda Qwabe in 2010, he decided to save his number under “Abongile” on his phone.
“When I met him on the beach it had been a long time since the two of us last saw each other so I just did not want to ask him what his name was. So I just saved his name as Abongile,” he told lawyer Francois van Zyl.
Van Zyl, for British businessman Shrien Dewani, asked why he continued to use “Abongile” during the trial of convicted gunman Xolile Mngeni.
Mbolombo, the State’s 14th witness, said there was no particular reason and it was more for continuity given what he had initially told police in statements.
“When you told police that, wasn’t that an attempt on your part to try and protect Qwabe? And once you used that name Abongile you had to stick with that name right through?”
Mbolombo said that was not the truth.
Van Zyl said Qwabe did not know this name and was known by other people as “Spra”. Mbolombo said he only heard about that nickname on television and in court.
Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.
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 was 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 for which he paid R15,000.
He maintains that Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for R15,000.
Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term and Qwabe, a 25-year jail term. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.