4 years later Shrien Dewani may face the music

2014-04-08 14:36

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Shrien Dewani has been formally charged with murdering his 28-year-old bride, Anni, at the Western Cape High Court following an extradition battle spanning nearly four years.

The matter has been adjourned until May 12 while Dewani is psychologically assessed at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital.

Family members of the murder-accused including his brother, Preyen, were seen speaking in court corridors today. Dewani wore a dark suit and was clean shaven when he stepped into the packed courtroom one.

He arrived in South Africa on a private jet chartered by the department of justice as a commercial flight may have worsened “his peculiar medical condition”.

A medical doctor, a nurse, officers from SAPS and Interpol, accompanied him on the flight from Bristol Airport in the United Kingdom to Cape Town.

“We took into account the fact that there was undisputed evidence during the extradition hearing that he had displayed suicidal tendencies and the SA government did not want to take chances,” said Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for the department of justice and constitutional development.

“It was therefore paramount that his return to the country is hazard free in order to ensure that he eventually makes that court appearance without hindrance,” he said.

A media contingent greeted him at the Cape Town International Airport, from where he was transported to the court in a black Hyundai with tinted windows.

Dewani’s arrival from the UK ends a four-year legal struggle that saw him battling extradition to the Western Cape with a formidable team of lawyers in Britain.

He will only stand trial in South Africa if he is found mentally fit to do so.

Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock and former provincial Scorpions head Adrian Mopp?–?who also attended Dewani’s court appearances in London?–?will argue that Dewani had paid three men to kill his wife in Gugulethu in November 2010.

The couple’s driver, Zola Tongo, admitted to his part in the crime, claiming that Dewani had paid him R15?000 to kill Anni.

Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in jail.

The two hitmen, Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, were given a life sentence and 25 years in prison, respectively.

Dewani will be represented by a top legal team from Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, which describes itself as “Africa’s largest law firm”.

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