Anni Dewani’s family has condemned the decision to release one of his ‘poor’ killers on parole from a South African prison, despite serving nearly half of his 18-year sentence.
Zola Tongo, now 42, was convicted of his involvement in the killings after pleading guilty to hiring two men to kill Anni, 28, in the Gugulethu suburb, near Cape Town on November 13, 2010.
The honeymoon bride’s family said they were “disappointed” that her killer was now a free man and they believe she is hiding the truth about how her murder was planned.
Speaking from Mariestad, Sweden, Anni Ashok’s uncle said: ‘Releasing Tongo without him completing his full sentence sends a very dangerous message.
‘It tells criminals in South Africa that if you are going to commit a crime, you do not have to commit that crime.
‘The life of my beautiful niece has been taken by this creature Tongo is now free to walk the streets.
‘We are saddened by this. We believe he has more information about what happened to Anni than what he told the police.
‘My brother Vinod (Anni’s father) and I went to see him in his Cape Town jail last year and suspended his pardon.
Zola Tongo, now 42, allegedly hired two men to kill Anni, 28, on the orders of her new husband in the Gugulethu suburb, near Cape Town on November 13, 2010. She is now expected to be released from prison in June. 21 after successfully apologizing
“We gave him a chance to tell us what he had been hiding and who had been protecting them, but he refused.
‘South Africans were thinking of releasing him last year. So at least he has served 12 more months. But it is not enough.
‘Of course nothing will bring Anni back, but this poor man drove her to death.
“We believe he has more information about how all the killings were planned and carried out.
The Swedish-born Anni had been married for just a few weeks to the boss of one million British nurses’ house Shrien Dewani, now 41 years old.
‘I heard that Tongo had been in poor health while in prison. I do not want any good. ‘
Her father Anni Vinod added: ‘We cannot rest until we have complete information about what happened to my daughter.
“We were only allowed halfway through the trials in Cape Town, so it means that only half the story is there.
“We will not rest until all the facts have been revealed about how he was killed and why.”
Tongo claimed Anni’s new husband, Shrien Dewani, was the one who ordered the blow while they were at the fungate.
The taxi driver admitted to being involved in the killings, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Her husband Dewani was acquitted of all charges in 2014.
Tongo was to be released from Malmesbury prison on parole in 2020, but was detained after opposition from Anni’s family.
But he was released on parole on Tuesday after his lawyers successfully argued for his release.
Tongo parole was granted on a number of conditions, including home detention, a social service order and a ban on alcohol and drug use.
Rynold Sedeman, chairman of the parole board, said Tongo should receive treatment from a psychologist and be evaluated by social workers while on parole.
Dewani (pictured above), 42, was photographed leaving his £ 3.5m apartment in a unique London area in 2020.
Tongo’s domestic detention will be in place for the first year of his six-year pardon, after which he will be a completely free man – provided he does not violate the terms.
He or she must also submit to the maximum risk of damages for a period of 12 months, and has been ordered not to threaten or threaten anyone, to commit a crime or to contact victims.
South African law states that a convicted felon who is serving a sentence of 25 years or less is liable to release after serving half of his or her sentence.
A Swedish-born Anni had been married for just a few weeks to British millionaire nursing boss Shrien Dewani, now 42 years old.
He said his life was saved as the two armed men forced him out of the car at gunpoint, before killing his new wife.
Dewani was accused of arranging the blow to his wife an engineer and a taxi driver and paying him and his two colleagues.
Tongo was allegedly paid R15,000 (£ 700) by Dewani for plotting to kill two militants.
Anni Dewani was killed in the back of a Tongo taxi, shot once in the neck after her husband fled the taxi which was later found abandoned by her body inside.
Prosecutors said Dewani – a successful British businessman of Indian descent – was so desperate for a marriage that he hired a pickup truck to kill his wife during a carjacking.
Dewani was arrested in the UK, but refused to be extradited to South Africa to answer charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
That sparked a long-running deportation war – delayed by Shrien’s imprisonment at a psychiatric hospital in the UK.
Dewani was finally extradited to South Africa in 2014 to face charges.
During her trial, she admitted that she had been living a double life and that she had seen male prostitutes.
One of these men was known as ‘The German Master’ who flew to Cape Town to give evidence of his meetings with Dewani.
But judge Jeanette Traverso refused to allow the prosecution to present her case as a witness.
The German teacher, whose real name was Leopold Leisser, was found hanged at his Birmingham home in November 2016.
Dewani was acquitted by a court in Cape Town in December 2014.
The judge dismissed the case, saying he was not prepared to rely on the testimony of three convicted people and that the case against Dewani was full of lies.
Dewani was brought to South Africa only from the UK for trial four years after his wife died after suffering trauma and mental health problems as a result of the killings.
When he returned to the UK after obtaining a permit, Dewani fell in love with Brazilian photographer Gledison Lopez Martins and traveled to Mumbai, where he married Anni, along with his girlfriend.
Mr Dewani (right) was acquitted of involvement in Anni’s murder during a trial in South Africa. Following the case in court, Mr Dewani, a bisexual, has found a new love affair with Brazilian photographer Gledison Lopez Martins (pictured together left)
But Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in prison while striker Mziwamadoda Qwabe also pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a 25-year sentence. The man who shot dead Anni, Xolile Mngeni, died of cancer in prison while serving his sentence.
Tongo was scheduled to be released for the first time in August 2020 amnesty.
However, after the parole board decided to release him, the appeal of his father Anni and his uncle led to reconsideration.
Tongo was visited in his cell and shouted at him to reveal the truth of what had happened but gave nothing and Anni’s family demanded that the South African authorities annul his pardon.
Tongo had packed his bags and said goodbye to his colleagues and family who had traveled to Malmesbury Prison 40 miles outside Cape Town to pick him up.
But less than 24 hours before his release, Tongo’s independence was restored.
Anni was killed in the back of a taxi on a fungate day with her new husband in a Cape Town suburb on November 13, 2010. She was shot in the neck after her husband fled the taxi which was later found abandoned by her body inside.
Dewani has spoken only once about his death in public since his removal.
In a letter to the London mortuary in November 2016, he described the three convicted men as ‘liars’, saying that there had been an attempt to prepare him.
He wrote: ‘I would like to make it clear that I have a large number of unanswered questions about the night my wife and I were abducted and Anni was tragically shot after being taken away from me.
‘Each member of the gang made a plan with the authorities to obtain full protection or reduction of severe punishment for giving evidence against me.
“It was the evidence of these liars that led the witch to hunt me down and cause me to fail to trace the truth of what happened that night.
‘It is clear that none of the evidence presented by these people was substantiated in any meaningful way.
“This has allowed the people involved to refrain from murder. I understand and share the grief of the Hindocha (Anni) family.
“However, the level of my understanding of the events leading up to Anni’s murder has already been specified in a comprehensive public request. This document was read out in court at the beginning of my trial.”