Role of Dewani middleman in question

Shrien Dewani's lawyer suggested Monde Mbolombo had a bigger role to play in arranging the hijacking.

British businessman Shrien Dewani appears in the Western Cape High Court on 6 October 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - Shrien Dewani's defence team maintains the facts show a fourth person, who has been granted immunity from prosecution, played a definitive role in arranging the apparent hijacking in which his wife Anni was killed.

Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo acted as a middleman, linking two of the convicted criminals, but Dewani's lawyer suggested he had a bigger role to play.

Dewani is on trial in the Western Cape High Court for allegedly ordering a hit on his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

The Briton on Monday denied all charges of conspiring to kill his wife.

Three South Africans are serving jail terms for Anni's murder.

Mbolombo's role in the alleged staged hijacking came under scrutiny in the Western Cape High court yesterday.

During cross-examination, convicted criminal turned state witness, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, was adamant Mbolombo simply linked him up with the Dewani's taxi driver Zola Tongo.

But defence lawyer Francois van Zyl wasn't convinced.

He said phone records show Mbolombo was in contact with Qwabe on the night of the hijacking, showing he was deeply involved in the planning.

Mbolombo turned state witness in Xolile Mngeni's trial, the man found guilty of pulling the trigger after the car was hijacked.


Qwabe told the court he and his two accomplices staged the hijacking in exchange for R15,000.

He said Tongo had told him: "It must look like a hijacking."

Qwabe, who is the state's second witness, said he commandeered the car in which the Dewanis were travelling.

Police later found Dewani' s body in the back seat with a single gunshot wound to the neck.

Qwabe's confidence slipped, his memory faltered and his answers grew vague under cross-examination.

He struggled to explain discrepancies in his plea agreement and various affidavits.

The honeymoon murder trial was adjourned early because he was suffering from an upset stomach.

Shortly after lunch, Qwabe told Judge Janette Traverso that while he was not one to complain, he couldn't continue because of an upset stomach.

Qwabe is serving 25 years for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of an illegal gun, after reaching a plea bargain with state lawyers.

Tongo is serving 18 years under a similar deal Mngeni was found guilty of shooting Dewani and sentenced to life in prison.

Dewani lost a three-year legal battle in Britain to avoid being tried in South Africa and was extradited in April.

His trial is the second high-profile case this year to turn the spotlight on South Africa's judicial system and high murder rate.

The matter will resume on Monday.

Additional reporting by Reuters