South African jailed over Anni Dewani honeymoon murder

Shrien and Anni Dewani
Shrien and Anni Dewani. Photo:

A South African man accused of being hired by Shrien Dewani to kill his bride on their honeymoon in Cape Town has been jailed for 25 years after admitting murder.

Family of victim Anni Dewani 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.

Shrien and Anni Dewani
Xolile Mngeni (L) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe (R) at a previous court hearing. Credit: APTN

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 that Mziwamadoda Qwabe also admitted kidnapping, robbery and the illegal possession of a firearm.

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.

With a case like this, everything comes back again. The way we feel is that we are going through legal torture. It is extremely stressful for the family.

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.

An update on Dewani's condition will be given to Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 18. His 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 and one damaging factor was his "constant awareness of the court proceedings".

Shrien and Anni Dewani
An update on Shrien Dewani's condition will be given to Westminster Magistrates' Court in September. Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Winning

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

Taxi driver 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.

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).

Shrien and Anni Dewani
Anni Dewani was shot in the neck and killed in South Africa. Credit: Facebook

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.

Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations.