Friday 6 December 2019

Hotel receptionist in honeymoon killer case may yet face prosecution

A hotel receptionist granted immunity for his part in the honeymoon murder of a Bristol businessman's new wife may yet face prosecution, a South African judge has said.

Monde Mbolombo was told he may be brought to book for his role in the death of model Anni Dewani in a rough Cape Town suburb four years ago. Her widower, Bristol entrepreneur Shrien Dewani, remains on trial for murder.

A CCTV still of Monde Mbolombo on the phone to Mziwamadoda Qwabe (BBC Panorama/PA)
A CCTV still of Monde Mbolombo on the phone to Mziwamadoda Qwabe (BBC Panorama/PA)

He denies plotting to kill his wife, who was 28, in an apparently staged hijacking-gone-wrong. Prosecutors have said Dewani, who is bisexual, wanted out of the relationship and planned the ruse so that he would escape while his wife was killed.

Mbolombo has always admitted involvement in the plot, but was told he would not be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and illegal possession of ammunition after he gave evidence in the case of gunman Xolile Mngeni, who was himself jailed two years ago.

But after giving evidence in the Dewani trial at the Western Cape High Court today, 35-year-old Mbolombo was told by judge Jeanette Traverso: "I am not satisfied as I sit here yet - I might be at a later stage - that the indemnity granted to you by judge (Robert) Henney applies to this case as well.

"At a later stage I would ask counsel to address me on that aspect."

Care home tycoon Dewani, 34, from Westbury-on-Trym, is on trial for allegedly plotting with shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Mngeni to kill Anni while they were on their honeymoon.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

He claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday November 13. He was released unharmed and Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

Mbolombo said his role was to make sure Tongo met Qwabe and to ensure the plot took place.

But he came under fire from defence counsel Francois van Zyl after the witness admitted lying about certain details in his previous statements and evidence.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term, while Qwabe is part-way through a 25-year sentence for their roles in the murder. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.

Prosecutors claim Dewani conspired with others to stage the hijacking, offering them 15,000 rand (less than £1,000 at the 2010 exchange rate).

But Dewani maintains that Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for 15,000 rand and that he knew nothing about his wife's planned kidnap and murder.

Dewani denies all charges.

The trial, which is listed to last until mid-December, continues.

PA Media

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