Mngeni's death unlikely to affect Dewani trial

Experts say Xolile Mngeni was found to be an unreliable witness in his own trial.

Xolile Mngeni consults with his lawyer on 19 November 2012 in the Western Cape High Court right after hearing that he had been found guilty of the murder of Anni Dewani. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town lawyer says the death of the man who killed Anni Dewani is unlikely to have any impact on her husband's murder trial.

Experts found that Xolile Mngeni, convicted of shooting her, was an unreliable witness in his own trial.

Its unlikely Mngeni would've been called to testify in the matter, which will resume this morning in the Western Cape High Court.

Mngeni died at Goodwood prison on Saturday after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in 2011.

Correctional facility officials say an autopsy is expected to be conducted soon.

Correctional service's Delekile Klass says this could take a while.

"It differs from hospital to hospital. It depends on where it is done and how fast they can get a pathologist. Some take weeks others take months."

Mngeni and two other men, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Zola Tongo were sentenced for their role in the killing of Anni four years ago.

It's alleged Anni's husband, Shrien Dewani, hired them to kill her during their honeymoon.

As Dewani returns to court this morning, independent Cape Town lawyer William Booth says Mgeni's death will not impact the trial.

"I never anticipated at all that the state would be calling him because I don't think they will regard him as a credible witness."

Qwabe and Tongo entered into pleas bargains with the state shortly after they were arrested for the murder.

Qwabe was the second witness in the trial while Tongo is also expected to be called to testify.


Meanwhile the prosecution will call its seventh witness today after evidence they wanted to submit was rejected by the court.

Last week, the court ruled certain evidence related to Dewani's sexuality was inadmissable.

Prosecutor Adrian Mopp wanted to submit sexually explicit email exchanges between Dewani and an unnamed man as evidence the British businessman was conflicted about getting married.

But Dewani's lawyer Francios Van Zyl successfully argued the emails were not relevant because they predated the hijacking by more than a year.

Judge Janette Traverso also questioned whether Dewani's sexuality had any bearing on his guilt.

The case was postponed on Tuesday because a member of the prosecution was down with chicken pox.