Hitman found guilty of murdering newlywed Anni Dewani
Published 19/11/2012 | 13:06
A HITMAN accused of pulling the trigger in the murder of newlywed Anni Dewani during her South African honeymoon has been convicted of murder.
A South African man has been found guilty of shooting honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani in 2010.
Prosecutors said Xolile Mngeni was hired by Mrs Dewani's British husband Shrien Dewani to carry out the killing, which was made to look like a car hijacking in Cape Town's impoverished Gugulethu township.
In August Mngeni's accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to charges over the murder. Mr Dewani is fighting extradition to South Africa and continues to deny he orchestrated the killing.
Judge Robert Henney ruled Mngeni was guilty of killing 28-year-old Mrs Dewani. Mngeni, who had surgery in June 2011 to remove a brain tumour, has suffered seizures and black outs and has memory problems, his lawyer said. His poor health has slowed his trial and he appeared skinnier than he had at previous hearings.
In his ruling, Judge Henney dismissed claims by Mngeni's lawyer that his client had been set up for the killing.
Zola Tongo, the taxi driver that police say husband Mr Dewani asked to plot the killing, earlier pleaded guilty to charges over the death and received an 18-year prison sentence. Both Tongo and Qwabe have said Mr Dewani wanted it to look like he was not involved his wife's murder.
In a statement provided as part of his plea deal, Qwabe said that after he and Mngeni staged the fake hijacking, he drove the car as Mngeni kept a 7.62 mm pistol pointed at Mrs Dewani in the back seat and then pulled the trigger, the fatal shot going through her neck. Panicked, Qwabe said he stopped the car and got out, helping Mngeni find the spent bullet casing. He threw the casing into a sewer as they ran away into the night.
Officials at first thought the incident was robbery in South Africa, where violent crime is high but attacks on foreign tourists are rare.
In March, the British High Court ruled that it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite Mr Dewani to South Africa, as his mental condition had worsened since his arrest there.
Mr Dewani's lawyer said he needed at least a year to recover from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder before being potentially sent back to South Africa.