Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hitman Pleads Guilty in Honeymoon Murder of Anni Dewani

Shrien and Anni Dewani. Police file photo.

In South Africa, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 27, pleaded guilty yesterday to killing newlywed Swedish-born woman Anni Dewani, 28, in November, 2010. Qwabe recounted in court how he and accomplice Xolile Mngeni boarded a taxi she and her new husband, Shrien Dewani were riding in while on their honeymoon in South Africa. Qwabe described how he wore yellow gloves as he drove the cab, and how Mngeni fatally shot Dewani through the neck. He also told the court how he and Mngeni stole Dewani’s Armani watch, diamond bracelet, purse and cell phone to make the attack look like a robbery. After pleading guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery, murder and illegal possession of a firearm, he was sentenced to 25 years. In a statement, Qwabe said, ”The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to [taxi driver Zola Tongo] and the husband.”

Shrien Dewani has consistently denied hiring hitmen to kill his new wife, but both Qwabe and Tongo have testified that Dewani paid them to stage the hijacking and kill Anni Dewani. During his trial, Tongo told the court that Dewani offered the trio 15,000 rand (about $1,850) to participate, and that he received only 1,000 rand (about $123) of his promised $600 dole. On the night of the crime, Tongo, who was hired in advance by Dewani’s assistant, was ejected from his taxi by Qwabe and Mngeni. Tongo was sentenced to 18 years. Mngeni’s trial is postponed due to his health; he had a brain tumor removed in 2011.

Dewani was allowed to go back to his home in Great Britain following his wife’s death, but was arrested in December, 2010, on ”suspicion of conspiring with others to murder Mrs Anni Dewani on 13 November.” In September, 2011, an order was issued for Dewani’s extradition to South Africa. He appealed on the grounds that he suffers from severe PTSD following his wife’s death. His appeal was granted this March when a judge ruled that it would be “unjust and oppressive” to send Dewani to South Africa in his current mental state.

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