Anni and Shrien Dewani during their marriage
A SOUTH African man on trial for gunning down Swedish honeymooner Anni Dewani accused police on Monday (October 22) of abusing him to force a confession to being present during her murder.
Taking the stand for the first time, Xolile Mngeni, 25, told the High Court in Cape Town that his interrogators had put an evidence bag filled with pepper spray in his face and squeezed his genitals in a drawer while questioning him after his arrest.
The police “took off my pants and my underwear squeezed (my genitals into) the drawer and closed it. They were telling me what to say,” he testified, saying that the police had wanted him to say he was present during the killing.
“When I refused... they were assaulting me. Then I ended up admitting.”
Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to Dewani’s killing and told the court that he had spent the night of the 2010 murder with his girlfriend.
However, he did not tell officers or attorneys that he had three alibis on hand.
This he attributed to not having been told his rights by police, being confused as to why he had been arrested and to having had several brain surgeries last year.
Having been medically cleared to stand trial with a malignant brain tumour, he was helped into the witness stand by a police officer and arrived in the courtroom with walking frame.
Dewani’s recovered jewelry, a cellphone and the gun that killed her were displayed on a nearby table.
Two fellow accused, already jailed over the killing, have claimed the murder was a paid hit that was staged as a hijacking.
Their plea bargains have implicated Dewani’s British husband Shrien in orchestrating his 28-year-old wife’s death, and prosecutors are fighting to have him extradited to stand trial in South Africa.
Mngeni denied several claims by his co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who was jailed for 25 years for his role and who named Mngeni as the gunman in his plea bargain.
“He is lying,” Mngeni repeatedly said, denying that the pair were friends.
Qwabe had approached him on a Saturday, ahead of the murder, to ask if he could find a buyer for two cellphones, he said.
The court also heard that he sold “tik”, the local name for highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.
The claims of police abuse were raised by the defence earlier in the trial and were shot down by testifying police officers.
Mngeni said the abuse had happened in a basement with blood on the floor and that a gun had been put in his mouth in a follow-up interrogation.
Another accused, the couple’s taxi driver Zola Tongo, is also serving 18 years in his own plea bargain over his role in arranging the murder.
Britain approved Dewani’s extradition but the London High Court shelved the process in March, citing health concerns. The Briton has claimed he is innocent.
No Comments Posted yet
Do you have comments on this?