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Hitmen phone calls don’t add up: Lawyer

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Two hitmen apparently knew they had to go ahead with a plan to kill honeymooner Anni Dewani in 2010 without being in contact with her husband, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Francois van Zyl, for Shrien Dewani, showed the court a timeline of the phone calls, as well as audio clips and surveillance footage, to show his client was removed from the plot.

He was cross-examining shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo, 34, who maintains that he, Dewani, hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, and Xolile Mngeni conspired to kill Anni on November 13, 2010.

Dewani is on trial for the alleged plot and has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

The footage and audio clips were taken from that night at the Protea Hotel in Century City, where Mbolombo worked.

He was seen at the front desk phoning Tongo at 6.35pm on the night of the murder.

Van Zyl said phone records showed there was no contact between the men after that, between 6.38pm and 9.33pm.

In that time period, Mbolombo phoned Qwabe at 9.31pm and they spoke in Xhosa for 126 seconds.

A translation agreed upon by both the State and defence showed the receptionist was telling Qwabe: “You know that thing we were talking about. It must happen today.”

Van Zyl said this was strange because Tongo had told the court that Dewani told him at the Surfside restaurant in Strand that the plan should still go ahead.

“Would you agree with me that if Mr Monde was referring to the hijack, he could not have obtained that information from you at 9.31pm? Would you agree with that?” Van Zyl asked.

Tongo said he would not be able to testify about a conversation that did not directly involve him and did not know what the men were speaking about.

“I am putting it to you that Mr Mbolombo had a much bigger role in the events that occurred than what you want to imply,” Van Zyl replied.

Dewani 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 driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking in return for R15,000.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term. Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices. Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18. Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

In one of the audio clips played in court on Tuesday, Mbolombo is heard telling Tongo there were “five of us”.

Tongo told the court this number included Dewani, but Van Zyl said this did not make sense. SAPA


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