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article imageTongo’s family shocked by sentence in Dewani’s case

By Abram Mahlaba     Dec 11, 2010 in Crime
Cape Town - Zola Tongo, the taxi driver who implicated Shrien Dewani for plotting the murder of his wife while honeymooning in South Africa, had not disclosed to his family that he would be sentenced to an effective 18 years in prison after signing a plea bargain.
According to Mail and Guardian, the taxi driver, Zola, Tongo, did not allow his attorney to inform his family that he had agreed to go to jail for 18 years after confessing to his central role in the alleged plot to kill Anni Dewani.
Tongo had instead asked his attorney, William da Grass to arrange a meeting with Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha to apologize for the murder.
Tongo’s aunt, Pumla Ngoza, a nurse, was quoted as saying that it was shocking to hear for the first time in court that Tongo would serve 18 years in prison.
“Why would Zola not give us an explanation about what his involvement was in the murder? He has never been involved in crime and he told us nothing. If he so badly needed R 1000.00, why didn’t he come to us?”
The aunt also claimed that Tongo’s family used their savings to pay for his legal fees, but his attorney said that his client told him that he had paid for his legal fees.
“I was acting on the instructions from my client not to divulge anything to them with regard to the sentence,” said Da Grass.
“I reaffirmed with him shortly before he appeared in court; in fact, it was a matter of minutes before he appeared. I found it surprising that he did not want me to inform his family, but instructions are instructions, and I had to abide by it.”
Tongo, 31, a father of five kids have been sentenced to 18 years in prison for murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and obstruction of justice.
If Tongo had not agreed to a plea bargain, his sentence would be much longer, life and more. But now, he might serve only nine to twelve years in prison if he qualifies for parole, given that he is ‘humble and kind’ according to his family.
Meanwhile, according to News24, the Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe has refuted the claims that Shrien Dewani will not get a fair trial in South Africa.
“Our courts jealously uphold and enforce the constitution, including the rights of the accused. It is thus simply untrue to suggest that Shrien Dewani will not get a fair trial, should our extradition request to the United Kingdom succeed.
“The presumption of innocence remains.”
Dewani is out on bail after a London court granted him bail on Wednesday.
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