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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links