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Freedom snatched from Anni Dewani killer as he’s sent back to jail on day he was due for release

A killer of honeymoon bride Anni Dewani who was due to walk free today has been ordered to stay behind bars just hours before he was due to be released.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, 39, was given 18 years for his part in the murder allegedly on behalf of British husband Shrien while in Cape Town just days after her wedding.

Tongo was said to have been paid R15,000 (£700) by her newly-wed husband Shrien to organise two hitmen to kill her while on a cultural visit to a township in 2010.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, 39, (pictured) was given 18 years for his part in the murder of Anni Dewani in Cape Town just days after her wedding

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, 39, (pictured) was given 18 years for his part in the murder of Anni Dewani in Cape Town just days after her wedding

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, 39, (pictured) was given 18 years for his part in the murder of Anni Dewani in Cape Town just days after her wedding

Swedish born Anni, 28, (right) had been found dead with a bullet wound to the neck in Tongo's abandoned car in a Cape Town township and claimed Shrien (left) paid him to kill her

Swedish born Anni, 28, (right) had been found dead with a bullet wound to the neck in Tongo's abandoned car in a Cape Town township and claimed Shrien (left) paid him to kill her

Swedish born Anni, 28, (right) had been found dead with a bullet wound to the neck in Tongo’s abandoned car in a Cape Town township and claimed Shrien (left) paid him to kill her

However, after the parole board decided to release Tongo half way through his sentence, an appeal by Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha and her uncle Ashok led to a rethink.

Tongo was visited in his cell and was grilled face-to-face to reveal the truth of what happened but he gave nothing away and Anni’s family demanded South African authorities revoked his parole.

Tongo had packed his bags and said goodbye to his cellmates and his family had driven up to Malmesbury Prison 40 miles outside of Cape Town to pick him up at dawn today.

But with less than 24 hours before he was due to be released, Tongo’s freedom was taken away again.

The two hit men Xolile Mngeni (pictured) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe also received lengthy sentences and Mngeni has since died but Tongo was the first of the trio due to receive parole

The two hit men Xolile Mngeni (pictured) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe also received lengthy sentences and Mngeni has since died but Tongo was the first of the trio due to receive parole

The two hit men Xolile Mngeni (pictured) and Mziwamadoda Qwabe also received lengthy sentences and Mngeni has since died but Tongo was the first of the trio due to receive parole

Swedish born Anni, 28, had been found dead with a bullet wound to the neck in Tongo’s abandoned car in a Cape Town township and claimed Shrien paid him to kill her.

Care home owner Dewani, 40, who was said to have been allowed to escape from the taxi was extradited to face trial in South Africa in 2014 but was cleared due to lack of evidence.

He denied being involved in the murder of his newly wed wife and fought extradition.

The two hit men Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe also received lengthy sentences and Mngeni has since died but Tongo was the first of the trio due to receive parole.

With less than 24 hours before the prison gates were due to open for Tongo, they banged shut again. Pictured: Tongo covering his face at Cape Town High Court on December 7, 2010

With less than 24 hours before the prison gates were due to open for Tongo, they banged shut again. Pictured: Tongo covering his face at Cape Town High Court on December 7, 2010

With less than 24 hours before the prison gates were due to open for Tongo, they banged shut again. Pictured: Tongo covering his face at Cape Town High Court on December 7, 2010

A source close to Tongo told TimesLIVE: ‘He was devastated as his bags were packed and he had said his goodbyes to his friends and his family were to see him outside the next day’.

Tongo’s parole withdrawal granted in May was confirmed with correctional services regional commissioner Delekile Klass who said they would make no further comment.

Anni’s father Vinod said when news broke of Tongo’s release: ‘This man should be behind bars he is dangerous to society and has never told the truth and deserves to be inside.

‘If you are a murderer and you know you have done something wrong naturally you will try to be nice in prison to escape the long sentence and he was pulling the wool over eyes’.

He was reported to have said today: ‘I am glad he is remaining locked up’.

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