Taxi driver held over murder of newly-wed in South Africa

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The Independent Online

A third man appeared in court yesterday in a further twist in the case of a woman from Bristol who was murdered during her honeymoon in South Africa.

Anni Dewani, 28, a Swedish national, was killed after gunmen hijacked the car she and her British husband, Shrien, were travelling in. Yesterday, the taxi driver, Zola Tonga, 31, appeared at Wynberg Regional Court in Cape Town alongside Mzwamadoda Qwabe, 26, to face charges of murder and hijacking. Significantly, prosecutor Rodney de Kock told the court that Mr Tonga will enter into a "plea bargain" with the state, indicating he is likely to provide information in return for a more lenient sentence.

The case has been the subject of speculation after it was revealed that the couple had opted to drive through the Gugulethu township on the night they were attacked and police sources suggested the killing was more than a "random attack".

Yesterday, police refused to confirm reports that Mr Dewani, 31, was due to return to South Africa for identity parades. The couple, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, had 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 was carjacked shortly after 10pm when the gunman forced Mr Dewani and Mr Tonga from the car.

The groom was thrown out of a window of the hijacked taxi after pleading with the attackers to release both him and his wife. He said: "They put a gun in my ear. The men kept on saying: 'We are not going to hurt you. We just want the car.' That was a lie." He admitted it was an impulsive decision to drive through the dangerous township at night but denied it was reckless.

Yesterday, as the case was adjourned to next Monday for further investigations, a police spokesman said that Mr Tonga's legal team is consulting the director of public prosecutions in Western Cape about a possible plea agreement. He added: "Detectives are in contact with Mr Dewani and at this stage they did not give any indication when he will be back in Cape Town."

Another person, 26-year-old Xolile Mmgeni, is due back in court on Thursday to face charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.