‘I was paid to make murder look like a hijacking’

Briton Shrien Dewani arrives at court accused of ordering his wife's murder. Picture: Getty
Briton Shrien Dewani arrives at court accused of ordering his wife's murder. Picture: Getty
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British businessman Shrien Dewani agreed to pay 15,000 rand (£830) to have his wife killed on their honeymoon in South Africa, a witness told a court yesterday, saying he had been asked to make the murder look like a hijacking.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe, a South African who is serving 25 years in jail for murdering Anni Dewani, told Cape Town’s High Court that taxi driver Zola Tongo had asked him to participate in a job for “a husband that wanted a wife to be killed”.

On Monday, Shrien Dewani denied all charges of conspiring to kill his wife in Cape Town in November 2010.

Three South Africans, including Qwabe, are serving jail terms for her murder.

Yesterday’s evidence came as a record of agreed facts in the case released by the court showed that Dewani, who told the court he was bisexual in a defence statement, was browsing the same-sex dating website Gaydar and Recon – described as “the world’s largest hook-up for gay men into fetish sex, leather and gear” – during his honeymoon and within days of his wife’s death.

The admissions show that Dewani was logged into Gaydar while waiting with his new bride for their connecting flight to Cape Town. He also logged on to Gaydar three times between November 15 and November 16 – each time for nearly an hour – as well as Recon twice during the same time period. Giving evidence yesterday, Qwabe told the court a 15,000-rand fee was agreed for a staged hijacking in Gugulethu township on the edge of Cape Town.

He said Tongo had told him: “It must look like a hijacking.”

Qwabe, who is the state’s second witness, said he commandeered the car in which the Dewanis were travelling. Police later found Anni Dewani’s body in the back seat with a single gunshot wound to the neck.

Under cross examination by defence advocate Francois van Zyl, Qwabe struggled to answer questions directly, often saying “I don’t recall” or “It is possible”.

Asked by Mr Van Zyl whether he was prepared to do something illegal when first hearing about the “job”, Qwabe said: “I’d say so, yes.”

Qwabe is serving 25 years for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of an illegal gun, after reaching a plea bargain with state lawyers.

Tongo is serving 18 years under a similar deal, while a third man, Xolile Mngeni, was found guilty of shooting Anni Dewani and sentenced to life in prison.

Dewani denies plotting to kill his wife, saying the couple had been held up and robbed by gunmen as Tongo drove them around Cape Town.

He told the court on Monday he was bisexual, apparently a response to media speculation that he engineered his wife’s murder to escape a heterosexual relationship.

In his plea explanation read in court on Monday, Dewani said taxi driver Tongo had offered to organise a private helicopter flight for the couple at a cost of between 20,000 and 25,000 rand, to which Dewani responded he would do it for 15,000 rand.

Dewani, who lost a three-year legal battle in Britain to avoid being tried in South Africa, took notes and repeatedly shook his head during Qwabe’s testimony yesterday.

This is the second high-
profile case in South Africa this year, after Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide.