Dewani trial: Tongo feels the heat under cross-examination

Several inconsistencies have emerged between the former taxi driver's statement and testimony.

FILE: Zola Tongo covers his head as he prepares to face murder charges in the Cape High Court. EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Former taxi driver Zola Tongo has denied telling police British businessman Shrien Dewani threatened to kill him if the hit on his wife wasn't carried out.

Tongo is the state's star witness in its case against Dewani, who is currently on trial in the Western Cape High court.

Dewani is accused of ordering a hit on his wife, Anni Hindocha Dewani during the couple's honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

According to Tongo, the sworn statement he gave police in November 2010 has several mistakes and is repeatedly being used by Dewani's lawyer,Francois van Zyl, to trip him up on the stand.

The latest involves a conversation he had with Dewani outside a restaurant in Strand before the alleged hit took place.

Tongo apparently told police Dewani had threatened to kill him if the job wasn't done.

But during cross-examination, the former taxi driver denies saying that.

This is just one of several inconsistencies between Tongo's statement and testimony.

Tongo has admitted there are mistakes in his statement, a crucial piece of evidence drafted in the presence of his lawyer and bears his signature.

Advocate Francois van Zyl enters the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

He started giving evidence last week and is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence for his role in Anni's murder and is eligible for parole in nine years.

The former taxi driver and two other men, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni, were sentenced for their role in killing Anni four years ago.

Mngeni died at Goodwood Prison last month after a battle with cancer.

He was buried in Khayelitsha on Saturday.


Earlier, the Western Cape High Court heard a key detail that formed part of an alleged plot to kill Anni was seemingly left to chance.

Tongo testified today that he trusted the Briton would follow through on his word regarding payment for the contract killing.

The former taxi driver recruited hitmen to kill Anni, allegedly at Dewani's behest but a key detail wasn't discussed.

Tongo said they expected Dewani to leave the hit money inside the cubbyhole of Tongo's Volkswagen Sharan.

But he admitted Dewani wasn't aware of this before being driven to the spot where the hijacking was supposed to take place at around 8pm on 13 November 2010.

When asked whether he knew if the murder accused had the money on him, Tongo said he trusted the Briton and assumed he would follow through on his word.

In the end, the hijackers didn't arrive at the agreed upon location on time so the alleged hit took place later than initially planned.

Van Zyl kept probing him about who he had agreed with as to where the money, which was to be paid for the alleged hit on Anni was to be left in his taxi after she was killed.

Read Dewani's full plea explanation, here.

For more on the honeymoon murder trial, click here.

You can also follow EWN's Dewani trial live blog for rolling updates.