South African found guilty of Swedish bride killing

Hitman was allegedly hired by husband to make murder look like a carjacking

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 4:18am

A South African accused of being the triggerman in the 2010 honeymoon slaying of a Swedish bride was found guilty yesterday, ending his long-delayed trial as the woman's husband continues to fight extradition over the killing.

Prosecutors say Xolile Mngeni was hired by 28-year-old Anni Dewani's British husband to carry out the November 2010 killing made to look like a carjacking.

Mngeni, who had surgery in June 2011 to remove a brain tumour, has suffered seizures and blackouts and has trouble remembering things, his lawyer has said. His poor health has slowed his trial and he appeared skinnier yesterday than he had at previous hearings.

Judge Robert Henney dismissed claims by Mngeni's lawyer that his client had been set up for the killing. Henney found Mngeni guilty of murder and robbery charges, while acquitting him of kidnapping charges. The judge described the case against Mngeni as "overwhelming" and said an "avalanche of evidence" came crashing down on his claims of innocence.

Mngeni told investigators "where the vehicle was hijacked, ... where the deceased was shot and where he had hidden the stolen items," Henney said. "How could he have done this if he wasn't involved?"

In August, Mngeni's alleged accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to charges over the killing, receiving a 25-year prison sentence. Zola Tongo, the taxi driver that police say husband Shrien Dewani asked to plot the killing, earlier pleaded guilty to charges over the slaying and was jailed for 18 years.

Both Tongo and Qwabe have said Dewani wanted it to look like he wasn't involved his wife's slaying and they planned to have the attack look like a carjacking in Cape Town's impoverished Gugulethu township. They received 15,000 rand (about HK$13,000) for the killing, Qwabe and prosecutors have said.

Shrien Dewani has denied he hired anyone to kill his wife and was allowed by authorities to leave South Africa for Brtiain, where he was later arrested. In March, a UK High Court ruled that it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite Dewani to South Africa, as his mental condition had deteriorated.

Dewani's lawyer told the court in a hearing on July 31 that he needed at least a year to recover from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder before being potentially sent back to South Africa.