19 November 2012

South Africa: Cape Town Man Guilty of Killing Tourist

Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA
Xolile Mngeni hides his face in court.

Cape Town — Xolile Mngeni was found guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Monday of killing honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani.

Judge Robert Henney found Xolile Mngeni, 25, guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances, premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He was acquitted on a kidnapping charge, as this formed part of a single chain of events leading up to the murder.

Dewani was shot dead in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010, in an allegedly faked hijacking. Her body was found the next day.

Mngeni stood expressionless as the judgment was delivered. His family watched wide-eyed from the gallery above.

"The State has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt," Henney said.

"The case against the accused is overwhelming and the accused could barely avoid the avalanche of evidence proved by the State to come crashing down on him."

The judge said Mngeni did not take the court into his confidence. He offered only bare denials and a late revelation of alibi witnesses.

His claim that police and witnesses conspired to implicate him was completely unfounded, Henney said.

"The version of the accused was riddled with improbabilities, inconsistencies and untruths."

The court found Mngeni could not adequately explain why he was seen in a vehicle with Dewani's convicted killers the day before the murder.

He could not explain why he was seen with two stolen phones, the one belonging to shuttle driver Zola Tongo and the other to the British tourist.

The judge also found Mngeni was not convincing when denying he hid Dewani's jewellery in the roof of his friend Likhaya's shack.

"The probability that anyone other than the accused could have placed it there are so remote that the court can safely neglect such a possibility."

After reading the judgment, Henney rescinded an order that protected the identities of three witnesses, after receiving representations by members of the media.

The witnesses were named as: hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo, childhood friend Likhaya Bacela and neighbour Sipho Qwakaza.

The court was expected to start with sentencing proceedings after lunch.

A policeman led Mngeni down to the police cells, pushing past a throng of photographers to open up space for Mngeni's walking frame.

Mngeni was found fit to stand trial despite having a malignant brain tumour.

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