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I sacrificed my life: Tongo

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Convicted shuttle taxi driver Zola Tongo seemed to portray himself as a victim when describing how the Anni Dewani murder plot affected him, during questioning in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

Tongo, 34, who is serving an 18-year jail term for killing the honeymooner in 2010, said in cross-examination that he sacrificed many things.

Francois van Zyl, for Anni’s husband and murder-accused Shrien Dewani, asked him what effort he went to.

“Firstly, the trouble that I made. I phoned Monde with my money, with my airtime. I went to Monde with my petrol. I sacrificed my life so that this might take place,” Tongo replied.

“There are many troubles that I went through, but the list is that.”

He said he lost all communication with the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town and that he and middleman Monde Mbolombo had “played” with their jobs.

Dewani is accused of the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit these crimes and defeating the ends of justice.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Shrien Dewani 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.

Mbolombo, a hotel receptionist, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against his accomplices.

Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour two weeks ago. Mziwamadoda Qwabe is serving a 25-year jail term.

Tongo told the court the murder was a “very bad period in my life”.

In his evidence-in-chief, he explained why he handed himself in to police on November 20, 2010.

“Because what I did was wrong. Secondly, I was a fool. Thirdly, I was misled,” he said at the time.

On Thursday, he explained Mbolombo was his friend and that he spoke to him about arranging a hitman because he knew everything that happened in their community.

Van Zyl said it was peculiar that Tongo became involved in the murder.

“You see we have this huge coincidence. You are not somebody who is involved in criminal activity and when the accused asked you about a hitman, that is not what you tell him,” the lawyer said.

Instead, Tongo was prepared to help and approached Mbolombo.

“I am putting it to you that it is so improbable it cannot be true. There is another reason behind these incidents.”

Tongo said that was Van Zyl’s explanation and not his own.

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