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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before