12 May 2014

South Africa: Dewani Matter Postponed

Photo: enews channel
Honeymoon Murder Accused Shrien Dewani (file photo).

Cape Town — Murder-accused Shrien Dewani will remain at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town to receive further treatment for his mental health, the Western Cape High Court ordered on Monday morning.

By agreement with his defence team and the State, Judge President John Hlophe postponed the matter until June 20.

In the pre-trial conference, Francois van Zyl provided insight on how his client had fared in his month as a hospital patient.

"I am informed that he has been fully co-operative and that his condition has improved. We have been told by treating psychiatrists not to consult with him for longer than 30 minutes at a time."

He said Dewani lacked the ability to concentrate for longer than this time but he remained hopeful that his client would improve enough to "instruct us properly".

Dewani, in a dark suit and tie, was brought up into the dock only after Hlophe had sat down.

His parents and other relatives sat in a bench in front of him and seemed worried.

Dewani stared at Hlophe. Sometimes, his eyes skitted from side to side.

Hlophe remained strict on media conditions.

"No one is allowed to take pictures for as long as I sit in this chair," he warned.

Dewani was led back down to the holding cells a mere five minutes after being led up.

Hlophe was informed that there were no other matters on the roll.

"That was a short walk to freedom," he joked, before exiting in his bright red robes.

Before his extradition to South Africa last month, Dewani was detained in a hospital in Britain for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the indictment handed to the Western Cape High Court last month, he is charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

It is the State's case that he acted in common purpose and conspired with Cape Town residents Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni to kill his wife.

In return, the State alleges Dewani would provide payment to the perpetrators.

Tongo, Qwabe, and Mngeni are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.

Dewani has not yet been asked to plead.

Dewani claimed he and his wife Anni were kidnapped at gunpoint as they drove through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a taxi in November 2010.

The couple had been on honeymoon in the country. He was released unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

The NPA, the police and the justice department have been waiting for over three years to get Dewani into the accused dock in a South African court.

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InFocus

South African Court Postpones Dewani Trial

Honeymoon Murder Accused Shrien Dewani (file photo).

The Western Cape High Court has delayed the murder trial of Shrien Dewani to 20 June 2014 after his defence requested further psychiatric evaluation. Read more »