Dewani Trial: South Africa Honeymoon-Murder Hitman Dies Before He Can Testify

Image: South African Xolile Mngeni jailed for Dewani murder dies in prison
A file photograph showing South African Xolile Mngeni appearing in Cape Town High Court for his trial, South Africa, 10 February 2012. NIC BOTHMA / EPA

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JOHANNESBURG - A South African hitman serving a life sentence for shooting dead the wife of British businessman Shrien Dewani has died of a brain tumor, the justice minister said, before he was due to testify in Dewani's trial for plotting the murder. Xolilie Mngeni, 27, was diagnosed with having a brain tumor in 2011, shortly after being convicted of firing the shot that killed Anni Dewani while she was on honeymoon in South Africa. He died in the hospital section of Goodwood Correctional Center in Cape Town as his application for medical parole was rejected by Justice Minister Michael Masutha in June.

Mngeni was set to testify in Dewani's trial which is underway at the Western Cape High Court. Shrien Dewani has denied all charges of conspiring to kill his wife in Cape Town in November 2010. Three South Africans, including Mngeni, had already been serving jail terms for her murder. Dewani lost a three-year legal battle in Britain to avoid being extradited to and tried in South Africa. Last Monday, he told the court he was bisexual, apparently a response to British media speculation that he engineered his wife's murder to escape a heterosexual relationship.

- Reuters