Dewani trial: State witness accused of being triggerman

Convicted killer turned state witness, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, has been accused of firing the fatal shot.

Honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani in the dock in the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - In a dramatic twist, the state's second witness in the honeymoon murder trial has been accused of firing the shot that killed Anni Hindocha Dewani.

Dewani's lawyer made the claim while cross examining the witness in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

During cross examination, convicted killer turned state witness, Mziwamadoda Qwabe was accused of being the triggerman.

However, Qwabe says his accomplice Xolile Mngeni fired the shot. Mngeni was sentenced to life in prison for pulling the trigger.

But today, Shrien Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl told Qwabe that it could not have been Mngeni.

He says Qwabe's yellow glove tested positive for primer residue.

Van Zyl also suggested Qwabe shot the woman accidentally after grabbing her leg.

He says the woman's wounds were not consistent with an execution style killing.

Shrien Dewani is accused of ordering a hit on his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town during November 2010.

Her body was found in an abandoned car in Khayelitsha following an apparent staged hijacking.

Dewani pleaded not guilty on all charges against him, including murder.

Van Zyl began by reading out a statement by Zola Tongo who indicated both Qwabe and Mngeni had guns.

Sitting in the witness box Qwabe, who was the driver on the night Anni was killed, disagreed with van Zyl, maintaining he didn't have a gun.

Van Zyl then questioned him on his version about the shooting which led to Anni's death.

Qwabe said she was sitting on the back seat, but van Zyl told Qwabe that his version could not be correct and was untrue.

Van Zyl indicated that it was Qwabe who shot Anni and not Mngeni, but Qwabe disagreed.

The yellow kitchen gloves used on the night were also shown in court as evidence.


Last week, a crime scene video showing Anni's body slumped over the back seat of a taxi and forensic details about the gunshot that killed her were revealed.

The state's first witness, pathologist Janette Verster, said Anni was shot in the neck and bled out in a "matter of heartbeats".

The following day Qwabe began testifying.

Tongo called in about a job and Qwabe explained that Tongo said Anni's husband wanted her dead.

The trio met in Khayelitsha where they discussed the staged hijacking and that they would be paid R15,000.

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

His mental health has been a topic of concern over the last few years but in August he was deemed fit to stand trial by a panel of experts who had been observing him at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Pinelands.

He was initially said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression.

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


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.

During cross-examination Qwabe was adamant Mbolombo simply linked him up with Tongo.

But van Zyl wasn't convinced.

He said phone records showed 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 the trial of Mngeni, the man found guilty of pulling the trigger after the car was hijacked.

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 while Mngeni was found guilty of shooting Anni and sentenced to life in prison.


Meanwhile, Shrien's internet browser history is expected to form part of the state's case against him as prosecutors try to prove he had a motive to kill his wife.

The browser history shows he logged onto a gay dating site and another site for men into fetish gear just two days after his wife was killed.

Shrien's formal admissions show he logged on to gay hook-up site Gaydar while he was on honeymoon with Anni.

Records show his computer also accessed the site just two days after his wife was murdered.

But he deactivated the account on 21 November 2010, a little over a week later.

Details about Dewani's internet browser history are contained in a 32-page document that was handed over to the Western Cape High Court last week.

The state could argue that his actions were not consistent with that of a grieving husband.

The following day, Dewani was questioned by members of his wife's family about what happened on the night she had been killed.

Part of that conversation was recorded by Anni's cousin and forms part of evidence in the case against him.

The witness list has not been released to the public.

Click here for Dewani's full plea explanation.

Click here for the Dewani trial live blog.