Mental observation period ordered for Shrien Dewani

2014-06-20 12:18

Murder-accused Shrien Dewani’s mental health will be officially observed at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, the Western Cape High Court ordered.

Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock brought the application for observation before Judge President John Hlophe, when a grey-haired Dewani made his third appearance today.

He said observation was necessary since the mental health report prepared by Valkenberg psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann differed in its opinion to that of Professor Tuviah Zabow, acting on behalf of Dewani.

Both reports, compiled on June 3, were handed to Hlophe.

“In view of the history of this matter and the current conflict regarding the question of whether the accused suffers from a mental illness and its potential impact on his fitness to stand trial, the state is of the view that the matter must be resolved definitively,” he said.

A tired-looking Dewani looked at De Kock as he spoke, occasionally fidgeting with the buttons on his suit.

Since his extradition from the UK, he has been detained at Valkenberg since April to receive care and treatment in line with his psychiatrist’s opinion that he suffered from a mental illness.

De Kock asked that the matter be postponed to August 15 in which time Dewani will be detained for observation.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, said the defence did not oppose the application.

Hlophe granted the postponement and told Dewani what was happening.

Dewani scrunched his face in concentration and leant his head to one side as if to hear what Hlophe was saying. He stared wide-eyed at the judge and then nodded his head.

With his family and UK officials sitting in front of him, he was then led back to the holding cells.

According to the indictment handed to the Western Cape High Court last month, Dewani 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, Anni.

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.

He claimed he and 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.

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