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Dewani Trial: Web of inconsistencies emerge in Tongo's testimony

Zola Tongo has started to sound like a stuck record, his responses repetitive and his explanations confusing.

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

CAPE TOWN - A web of inconsistencies has emerged during cross-examination of the state's star witness in Shrien Dewani's murder trial.

Former taxi driver Zola Tongo is testifying in the Western Cape High Court against Dewani, a British businessman accused of ordering a hit on his wife, Anni Hindocha Dewani, in November 2010.

Anni was killed in an alleged staged hijacking during the couple's honeymoon in Cape Town.

It's claimed Dewani hired Tongo to recruit hitmen to carry out the job.

Tongo has started to sound like a stuck record, his responses repetitive and his explanations confusing.

He was repeatedly quizzed about a number of discrepancies between his sworn statement and his testimony.

Tongo said some mistakes were made by him and blamed the others on the officer who drafted the document.

When asked to explain his mistakes, Tongo repeatedly said his memory is clearer now than it was back then.

He said he now has a clearer recollection of how events unfolded than when he was interviewed by police almost two weeks after the murder.

Tongo was given an opportunity to correct what he has now described as mistakes in his sworn statement to police but he didn't.

Dewani's lawyer Francois Van Zyl then questioned why Tongo, who had an opportunity to correct mistakes in his statement, opted to make only one change to the document.

TONGO'S PLEA BARGAIN UNDER SCRUTINY

The circumstances that led to Tongo entering into a plea bargain with the state earlier came into sharp focus.

Van Zyl told Tongo that high-level negotiations preceded his signing of a plea bargain with the state.

He said Tongo's affidavit was crucial evidence that wasn't hurriedly drawn up by just any police officer, instead, he said it was drawn up by a senior policeman involved in the investigation.

Van Zyl also accused Tongo of intentionally underplaying the role of a middleman in the honeymoon murder plot.

Middleman, Monde Mbolombo, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against hitman Xolile Mngeni.

Mbolombo is the man who linked Tongo to the second hitman, Mziwamadoda Qwabe.

But since the start of Dewani's trial, the Briton's lawyer has questioned whether Mbolombo played a far bigger role in the murder plot than the conspirators are letting on.

A series of phone calls between Tongo, Mbolombo and Qwabe in the build up to the shooting is being used by the defence to raise suspicion.

Tongo claims Mbolombo wanted R5,000 for his role in the alleged conspiracy but he expected Mbolombo to take his share from the R15,000 which was offered as payment for the hit.