Dewani Trial: Van Zyl drops bombshell in court

Dewani's lawyer has revealed he has a witness who will say Tongo is lying about everything.

Advocate Francois van Zyl enters the Western Cape High Court ahead of Shrien Dewani's murder trial on 3 November 2014. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Murder accused Shrien Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl has dropped a bombshell on the seventh day state witness Zola Tongo's has been on the stand in the Western Cape High Court.

Tongo claims the British businessman hired him to recruit hitmen to kill his wife, Anni Hindocha Dewani, during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

He is the state's key witness in its case against Dewani.

Dewani is charged with orchestrating the murder of his wife Anni in Cape Town in 2010.

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

Dewani was implicated in his wife's death by three co-accused who agreed to testify for the state in exchange for lesser sentences.

He has pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him including kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances and murder.

Van Zyl today revealed he has a witness who will say Tongo is lying about everything.

During cross-examination, Van Zyl revealed Tongo's prison mate could be called as a witness.

He said the prisoner contacted Van Zyl with information in 2011.

Convict Bernard Mitchell allegedly asked Tongo to tell him the truth about what happened to Anni while they were in prison together.

Van Zyl said Tongo told Mitchell that Anni was the victim of a hostage situation gone wrong and that her husband wasn't involved.

Mitchell allegedly told Tongo the plan went awry when one of the men wanted to rape her.

Van Zyl said Tongo told Mitchell that he thought of blackmailing Dewani but later struck a deal with state.


Earlier, Van Zyl told the court his client tipped staff at the Cape Grace Hotel R15,000 and gave thank you cards to those who assisted him after his wife was killed.

He said Dewani went to the V&A Waterfront and bought 10 thank you cards of African design.

He said one of those cards was sent to Tongo along with R1,000.

Tongo however claims the money was given to him as payment for recruiting hitmen to kill Dewani's wife.

He denies ever receiving the card and claims he was short-changed by Dewani who was supposed to pay him R5,000 for his role in the killing.

Van Zyl questioned whether Tongo neglected to tell police about the card because that would have contradicted his testimony.

He said he has footage that shows Dewani leaving a stationery shop earlier that day.

Tongo told the court if the British businessman had bought him wine, chocolate or any other gift, he would have mentioned it.

Van Zyl is expected to wrap up his cross-examination of Tongo today.

Dewani was extradited from Britain in April after losing a three-year battle to avoid trial in South Africa.

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.

For more on the honeymoon murder trial, click here.

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