'A lady needs to be killed'
The first state witness in the Anni Dewani murder trial revealed yesterday how he had helped find a hitman to kill her in an orchestrated hijacking two years ago.
The man, a receptionist at an up-market city hotel at the time of the murder, told the Cape Town High Court that Zola Tongo - who operated a business that transported guests between the hotel and the airport - had approached him at work on November 12 2010 looking for a hitman.
The witness is testifying in the trial of Xolile Mngeni, the man accused of pulling the trigger on Anni.
Anni's husband, British businessman Shrien Dewani, is alleged to have orchestrated the staged hijacking and murder with the help of Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe.
The man told the court of his interaction with Tongo: "He mentioned to me that there was a lady that needed to be killed . and that the car must be hijacked. He said there was a gentleman who wants this lady to be killed. He said this gentleman was not from South Africa and had done this before. He said they had met at the airport."
The man told the court that Tongo had told him that Dewani had successfully planned another murder in South Africa that was made to look like a hijacking.
Last year, newspapers sought to link Dewani to the killing of Dr Pox Raghavjee, of King William's Town, in what appeared to be a hijacking in 2007.
The witness has been offered indemnity from prosecution in return for his testimony.
Judge Robert Henney ordered the media not to photograph or name the man. The prosecution fears for his safety and that of other witnesses.
The man - who has been in a witness protection programme - said Tongo had driven him to work on the day of the murder and that Dewani had phoned Tongo during the drive.
"Zola's phone rang and he said to me [it was] 'the gentleman calling'. I only heard Zola saying, 'I'm on the way'. Then he said, 'This guy doesn't trust me'. He then dropped me off at work and said he was going back to Khayelitsha."
The witness named the alleged hitman but the prosecution told the court that it intended calling the man to the witness stand.
The witness said Tongo kept him informed of his movements with the couple. and he had used his work telephone to convey messages between Tongo and the alleged hitman.
The following day, the alleged hitman had visited him at home and told him that he could not reach Tongo and wanted money, he said.
"He said I must not ask him too many questions and told me that 'what needed to be done is done'. I understood that the murder had been committed. He said it was all over the news and that there was a helicopter flying around."
In his confession, Tongo said he hired Mngeni and Qwabe to carry out the hit.
Mngeni has pleaded not guilty.