Man jailed for Anni Dewani honeymoon murder


John Fahey
Thursday 09 August 2012 11:40
Shrien and Anni Dewani at their wedding
Shrien and Anni Dewani at their wedding

One of two men accused of being hired by British newlywed Shrien Dewani to kill his bride on their honeymoon in Cape Town has been jailed for 25 years after admitting murder.

Victim Anni Dewani's family reacted by saying they were "happy" but would not know the truth of "what really happened" until Mr Dewani travels to South Africa to face trial. He has previously pledged to fight to clear his name.

Mrs Dewani, 28, was shot dead and her body found in an abandoned taxi in Cape Town's impoverished Gugulethu township in November 2010.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority said today that Mziwamadoda Qwabe also admitted kidnapping, robbery and the illegal possession of a firearm.

South African Xolile Mngeni still faces charges over the killing and the victim's husband remains in medical care pending a decision to extradite him to South Africa.

Mrs Dewani's uncle Ashok Hindocha said: "We are just happy. Two of the accused have now pleaded guilty.

"Now we want to know what really happened to Anni, why they killed her."

Mr Hindocha said the family were still unable to begin mourning because of the proceedings.

"With a case like this, everything comes back again," he said.

"The way we feel is that we are going through legal torture. It is extremely stressful for the family."

Mr Hindocha added: "I would have been much, much happier if all the accused were in South Africa and cross-examination took place and the truth could be found.

"To us, Anni is still not dead.

"We haven't started the mourning process, we can't. We need to know what happened and then we can start working our way through it.

"We know Anni is not coming back.

"Yes, there are people sitting in custody and various reasons have been given for not going forward, but it is not human."

Dewani, a care home owner from Bristol, is due at Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 18 when the chief magistrate Howard Riddle will be given an update on his condition.

Last month, Dewani's QC Clare Montgomery argued that her client would need 12 months to recover before being able to cope with the extradition process.

She said Dewani, who is deemed a suicide risk, was making a slow recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and one damaging factor was his "constant awareness of the court proceedings".

She said he was taking anti-depressants on the advice of his psychiatrist who believed his depression and PTSD were of moderate severity and had discernibly decreased.

After being hijacked with his wife, Dewani was ejected from the car but she was driven away and murdered.

It was not clear what today's plea deal with prosecutors involved but it was agreed at a pre-trial hearing for both Qwabe and Mngeni.

The trial has been postponed several times due to the poor health of Mngeni who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

In March, the High Court ruled that it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite Dewani to South Africa because of his illness.

But they said he should be extradited in the interests of justice "as soon as he is fit".

Dewani was allowed to leave South Africa before a confession by taxi driver Tongo.

Tongo said Dewani offered him 15,000 rand (about £1,200) to arrange the killing and make it look like a carjacking.

In a plea bargain to avoid a life sentence, Tongo pleaded guilty and was convicted of kidnapping, murder, aggravated robbery and obstructing justice.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and is expected to give evidence at trial.

A Dewani family spokesman said the family did not want to make any comment.

In the plea agreement, Qwabe admitted kidnapping Mrs Dewani in Gugulethu with co-accused Xolile Mngeni, Zola Tonga and Shrien Dewani, on or about November 13.

He admitted assaulting her with a firearm to force her into submission, and robbing her of a Giorgio Armani watch, a gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and her mobile phone.

Her possessions were worth about R90,000 (nearly £7,000).

He also pleaded guilty to driving Mrs Dewani to Ilitha Park, in Khayelitsha, where she was shot in the neck and killed while in the car.

Qwabe said her husband arranged the contract killing.

"The agreement was that Zola and the husband would be unharmed and that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and killed," he said in the plea agreement.

"The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to Zola or the husband."

Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations.


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