JOHANNESBURG — It was a murder that seemed to confirm every South African horror story. Newlywed Anni Dewani, a Swedish-born engineering graduate, was hijacked in a taxi with her British husband near Cape Town last month and was found in a taxi the next day shot dead.
But on Tuesday, Cape Town prosecutors turned the story on its head. Prosecutor Rodney De Kock alleged that the husband, Shrien Dewani, 31, paid two hit men about $2,200 to kill his wife, plotting the murder with taxi driver Zola Tongo, 31.
"The alleged hijacking was in fact not a hijacking, but part of a plan of subterfuge which Shrien Dewani, the husband of the deceased, and the accused had designed to conceal the true facts," De Kock told the Cape Town Supreme Court as it accepted Tongo's guilty plea in the case.
Prosecutors did not comment on whether they plan to seek the extradition from Britain of Dewani, who owns a chain of nursing homes. He denied the accusation.
Xolile Mngeni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, have been charged as the hit men.
The murder has fascinated British tabloids, which dubbed it the "Honeymoon Horror." A Facebook page memorial to Anni Dewani, 28, drew more than 21,000 followers. Many of them were South Africans horrified by the killing and the shadow it cast on South Africa's reputation so soon after it successfully hosted the soccer World Cup in June and July.