Witness testifies against Dewani 'hitman'

Xolile Mngeni, one of the men accused of murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani, appears in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, 13 August 2012. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The alleged gunman in the Anni Dewani murder case has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. 

Xolile Mngeni’s trial got underway in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday. 

He faces charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. 

Last week, Mngeni’s co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe was sentenced to 25-years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the 2010 murder of the British tourist.

According to Qwabe, they were paid R15,000 to murder Anni.

In court on Wednesday, prosecutors revealed that 32 witnesses will testify in the case.

Mngeni’s lawyer Matthews Dayimani told the judge that he did not receive the witness list and other documents in time for the trial.

Prosecutors argued the lawyer had received the list, but the document did not detail who would testify first.

Judge Robert Henney then called the first witness to take the stand.

The witness, who cannot be named, told the court he was working at a Cape Town hotel in 2010.

He recalled how he was approached by taxi driver Zola Tongo, who was looking for a hitman.

The witness said Tongo told him a man from abroad, now identified as Shrien Dewani, wanted a woman killed in a staged hijacking.

Mngeni, who is suffering from a malignant brain tumour, sat next to his lawyer for the duration of the trial.

Meanwhile, Dewani is currently suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The British businessman has denied any involvement in his wife’s matter.

A London court recently ruled Dewani could be extradited to South Africa in 2013. 

(Edited by Lindiwe Mlandu)