Shrien Dewani fit to stand trial for wife Anni’s honeymoon murder

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 10:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 10:34pm

Shrien Dewani, the British businessman accused of arranging the killing of his wife, Anni, during their honeymoon in Cape Town, was fit to stand trial, South African High Court Judge John Hlophe ruled.

The trial would start on October 6 and should be concluded in December, Rodney de Kock, director for public prosecutions in the Western Cape province, said after a panel of three court-appointed psychiatrists and a psychologist unanimously found that Dewani didn't suffer from any mental condition that would make him unfit for trial.

He will remain in detention at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital "for monitoring and therapy" until the trial starts, De Kock said.

Dewani says he and Anni were carjacked at gunpoint in a taxi while driving through Cape Town on November 13, 2010. While the businessman was unharmed, his wife was found dead on the back seat of the abandoned vehicle the next day with a gunshot wound in her neck. Prosecutors say Dewani arranged the killing, an allegation he denies.

"All his mental issues have been resolved and we are happy that the court has found him fit to stand trial," De Kock told reporters after yesterday's hearing. "We trust that this trial will be concluded as speedily as possible and that justice will take its course."

Dewani, who underwent treatment in Britain for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after his wife's death, returned to South Africa in April after losing a three-year legal battle against his extradition.

Standing in the dock, Dewani listened in silence as Hlophe made his ruling in a packed court. Family members, including his father Prakash and brother Preyen, were present as they have been at previous hearings. Anni's family, who have attended past proceedings, were absent.

Dewani was charged on April 8 with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice.

Xolile Mngeni admitted to the shooting and was jailed for life in 2012, while accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who also pleaded guilty to murder, received a 25-year prison sentence. Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years for being an accomplice to the crime.