Zola Tongo, the taxi driver that assisted Shrien Dewani in the murder of his bride Anni, had his parole withdrawn the day before he was due to be free from prison. Tongo served half of his 18-year sentence, and was slated to return home on July 28. He was held at the Malmesbury prison, where he was reportedly a “model prisoner”.
On July 27, however, Tongo was informed that his parole was being withdrawn pending review.
“He was devastated,” said a source close to Tongo said to TimesLIVE. “He still is devastated. His bags were packed, he had said his goodbyes to his friends and he and his family were looking forward to reuniting outside prison the next day. But it was not to be.”
Tongo’s parole was withdrawn on July 10, but he was only informed of this on the 27th.
“He couldn’t understand why they could not have broken the bad news earlier,” the source said.
Anni’s family, the Hindochas, believe that justice can only be served if Tongo is made to serve his full 18-year-long sentence for helping Shrien to organise the fateful murder. Anni’s body was found in Tongo’s abandoned car with a bullet wound to the neck on the morning of November 14, 2010. The car was found in Khayelitsha, and Tongo later admitted that Shrien offered him R15 000 to find hitmen willing to kill Anni.
He arranged for Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe to carry out the hit. Both men received long prison sentences, but Mngeni has since died. Shrien was extradited, and appeared in the High Court in Cape Town for the murder trial in 2014.
Delekile Klass, who is the Regional Commissioner for Correctional Services, confirmed the withdrawal of Tongo’s parole. “The matter is with the National Council on Correctional Services. We are therefore unable to comment on it until we receive the outcome,” said Klass.
A member of Tongo’s rehabilitation team believes that the protests from the Hindocha family is likely to be the reason behind the withdrawal of parole.
“I’m not sure what communication correctional services received from Anni’s family. All we know at this stage is that they are not happy with Zola’s early release,” said the source. “What normally happens is when a victim’s family indicate this to correctional services then the department has the right to appeal to the parole review board. Although Tongo was devastated he realised that he could do nothing about it. At first he asked why, why, why. Then he realised that parole is a privilege and not a right and that he still has eight years of his sentence to serve. He also realised that if he was released that he could be on parole for the remainder of his sentence and that in effect he would be under house arrest for up to eight years under strict supervision of his parole officer.”