Dewani Trial: Tongo excused from the stand

Francois van Zyl told the court an inmate could be called to dispute Zola Tongo's testimony.

FILE: Shrien Dewani's defence attorney Francois van Zyl hurries up the Western Cape High Court's steps. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - State witness Zola Tongo's final day on the stand was marred by shocking allegations that Shrien Dewani was being set up and the man responsible for Anni Hindocha Dewani's murder admitted to the allegations while in prison.

Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl wrapped up his cross-examination of Tongo today, but not before dropping a bombshell in the Western Cape High Court.

Tongo is the state's star witness in its case against Dewani, a British businessman accused of ordering a hit on his wife,during their honeymoon in Cape Town on 13 November 2010.

Anni's 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 told the court an inmate could be called to testify for the defence to dispute Tongo's testimony.

He said the convict, Bernard Mitchell, spoke to Tongo in prison and is privy to inside information about what really happened to Anni.

Van Zyl said Tongo told Mitchell that Anni was to be held hostage but the plan fell apart when one of the hijackers wanted to rape her.

Tongo then allegedly told Mitchell he pinned the whole thing on Dewani for a lesser sentence.

The former taxi driver denies the allegations.


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.

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.