Man denies Anni Dewani murder cash claim

 

A man accused of helping British newlywed Shrien Dewani to orchestrate the murder of his bride on their honeymoon in Cape Town claimed he did not receive any payment for his role in her death, a court has heard.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was allegedly offered 5,000 rand (about £380) to act as a "middleman" in the plot to kill Anni Dewani in an apparent carjacking.

Xolile Mngeni is standing trial accused of killing the 28-year-old. He denies murder, kidnapping, robbery and illegal possession of a firearm.

Mngeni's lawyer Matthews Dayimani said taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has already been convicted for his role in Mrs Dewani's murder, would testify that the unnamed man was offered cash for his services to hire a hitman.

But the man, who appeared as a witness at Western Cape High Court today, said Tongo was "lying" and claimed he did not receive any payment for his part in the alleged plot.

He said: "I did not get any money from all of this. There was no such promise. It's blood money."

Mrs Dewani was shot dead after the car she was travelling in was hijacked in the impoverished Gugulethu township in November 2010.

Her husband Shrien, who the authorities want to extradite to South Africa, was ejected from the vehicle and Mrs Dewani's body was found later.

So far, two men have admitted their roles in Mrs Dewani's murder and claimed her husband orchestrated the killing.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe was jailed for 25 years and Tongo was jailed for 18 years after saying Dewani offered him 15,000 rand (about £1,200) to arrange the killing and make it look like a carjacking.

Dewani, a care home owner, is due at Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 18 when an update will be provided on his medical condition.

He is currently in the care of medics after being diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In Tongo's plea bargain confession, he alleged Dewani had previously arranged for someone to be killed in a fake hijacking in South Africa.

On Wednesday the witness, who was given immunity from prosecution and whose identity was kept secret for fear of reprisals, said he had been the middleman in a plot by a person, believed to be Dewani, to have his wife killed.

He told the court today that he never asked Tongo who the target would be at the time of his request for a hitman.

Judge Robert Henney said: "You didn't ask who is going to be killed. This is a serious thing. Didn't you take it seriously?"

The witness said it did come to mind and at a later stage he asked Tongo while they were in his vehicle who he wanted to be killed.

PA

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