A South African on Wednesday pleaded guilty of being hired by a British-Indian to kill his honeymooning wife and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, raising the prospects of extradition and trial of the accused businessman husband.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe was one of two men accused of being hired by British-Indian Shrien Dewani to kill Anni Dewani (28), a Swedish of Indian-origin, in a township near Cape Town in November 2010. Qwabe pleaded guilty to kidnapping, robbery, murder and illegal possession of a firearm and the Western Cape High Court sentenced him on all counts —15 years for robbery, five years each for kidnapping and illegal possession of a firearm and 25 years for murder. In March, a British court had ruled against immediate extradition of Dewani to South Africa, saying it would be “unjust and oppressive”.
The judges cited Dewani’s mental condition since his arrest in December 2010 for the ruling, but left the door open saying he would recover “within a reasonable time” and could then be sent to South Africa. Dewani has denied all the allegations.
The terms would run concurrently, said the judge. Qwabe earlier pleaded guilty to all charges. His lawyer Daniel Theunissen said he had signed a plea agreement, according to South Africa’s SAPA news agency.
Anni Dewani was shot in an apparent car hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband in Cape Town in November 2010.
In the plea agreement, Qwabe admitted to kidnapping her in Gugulethu with co-accused Xolile Mngeni, Zola Tonga and Dewani on or about November 13. He admitted assaulting her with a firearm to force her into submission, robbing her of a Giorgio Armani watch, a gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and her cellphone.
He further pleaded guilty to driving her to Ilitha Park, in Khayelitsha, where she was shot in the neck and killed while in the car. He said her husband had arranged the contract killing.
“The agreement was that Zola and the husband would be unharmed and that the deceased would be kidnapped, robbed and killed,” said Qwabe in the plea agreement.
“The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to Zola or the husband.”