Murdered bride's husband paid to have her killed, says cab driver

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 car jacking has been the subject of furious speculation and police leaks 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 13 November.

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, who admitted it was an impulsive decision to drive through a dangerous township at night, 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. Her husband's rapid return to Britain led to speculation in the South African media.

Yesterday Tongo, 31, appeared in the dock as Mrs Dewani's father, Viand Hindocha, sat nearby struggling to contain his grief. In his formal admission, Tongo 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 on the city's Waterfront.

"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. Shrien Dewani said he had US dollars and 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 25 February to face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

Their plans initially went awry when the hitmen failed to appear so Tongo took the Dewanis on to have supper, the court heard. "Prior to entering the restaurant, Shrien Dewani asked me what was happening and said he wanted the job done that night," Tongo said.

As the couple ate, Tongo said he received a call from the hitmen who confirmed they would be in place. As they attacked, the driver was ordered out of the vehicle first, he said. "I knew that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and murdered after Shrien Dewani had been ejected from the vehicle in accordance with the plan," he said.

Tongo was later charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and perverting the course of justice.

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 which Shrien Dewani, the husband of the deceased, and the accused had designed to conceal the true facts, to wit that the deceased was murdered at the insistence of her husband."

Mr Clifford said his client was totally innocent and was in Britain receiving medical treatment as well as trauma counselling. "These allegations are totally ludicrous and very hurtful to a young man who is grieving the loss of the woman he loved," he said.

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices