Cape Town – Anni Hindocha’s dad Vinod Hindocha landed in Cape Town on Sunday determined to keep the taxi driver who plotted her brutal honeymoon murder behind bars.
Hindocha is due to attend taxi driver Zola Tongo’s parole hearing next week, which could free the killer after just nine years in jail.
“We don’t want Tongo freed at this stage,” said Hindocha. “It’s got nothing to do with Tongo. We first need to follow up on some new information in South Africa before we can agree to his release.”
Hindocha, accompanied by his brother Ashok, is due to meet Justice and Correctional Services officials on Monday when he will be informed of the venue and exact date of Tongo’s impending parole hearing.
Tongo pleaded guilty to Anni’s murder in December 2010 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
His testimony implicated her husband, Shrien Dewani, in the November 2010 honeymoon murder plot.
He claimed Dewani hired him to find killers to murder her during the couple’s Cape Town honeymoon and to make the hit look like a botched hijacking and robbery.
Convicts become eligible for parole after serving half their jail sentences.
In anticipation of this, Tongo has submitted an application to the parole board of the Correctional Services Department. Testimony from the victim’s family plays a key role in determining if parole is granted.
Tongo’s freedom bid comes on the eve of a soon-to-be published book which alleges that he lied about how much taxi fare Shrien paid him in secret at the Cape Grace Hotel, days after Anni’s murder.
Titled Till Death Do Us Part and written by amateur sleuth-turned-forensic master’s student Thomas Mollett and brother Calvin, the book revisits the evidence and reaches conclusions that cast a shadow over Dewani’s controversial acquittal in December 2014.
Recounting Dewani’s final pay-off, the authors recall how Shrien slipped away from Anni’s father and a police officer on the hotel terrace to meet Tongo as arranged in a hallway.
There he waved Tongo inside the communications room where he handed money to him. CCTV footage then captured the two leaving separately, with Tongo carrying a plastic bag that both said contained R1000.
The authors claim the meeting was highly suspicious, especially since Dewani never disclosed it to Anni’s family or in his affidavits.
“Why did Tongo leave the comms room to count R1 000 in the men’s?” they ask. “How long does it take to count R1000? In hundreds, that is only 10 notes. Why carry R1 000 in a bag at all?”
They conclude the bag contained much more than R1 000, which they allege casts a shadow over both Tongo and Dewani’s credibility. To bolster their point, the Molletts posted a blown-up screen grab from the CCTV footage on their “Bloody Lies” Facebook page showing the thickness of the bag between Tongo’s fingers.
Without knowing the context, followers guessed that that bag contained anything between R10000 and R80000, which the Molletts allege would tally with the amount of cash they estimate Dewani still had in his possession: at least R50000, they deduce from evidence.
All this speculation raises the question for the authors: “Why was Dewani paying Tongo so much money?”
It took four years to extradite Dewani to stand trial and he was acquitted in the middle of the hearing in December 2014 without his version of events ever being tested.
Hijackers and hitmen Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni were sentenced to 25 years and life respectively. Mngeni died in prison.
The so-called middleman in the plot, Monde Mbolombo, remains a free man after he turned state witness and was granted indemnity even though the court found he perjured himself.