Dewani has ‘no psychiatric symptoms’

2014-06-21 00:00

A CAPE TOWN psychiatrist who has been treating Shrien Dewani since April 8 has reported that he is not currently suffering from a mental illness.

Dr Sean Baumann, a senior specialist psychiatrist at Valkenberg Hospital, recommends that Dewani should be discharged.

“Further hospitalisation will not be good for him. On the contrary, it will strengthen the evasive behaviour he has displayed since the incident in November 2010.

“Further counselling is needed. He is possibly trapped in the traumatic events and this would help him move forward,” Baumann writes.

Dewani is accused of arranging the murder of his wife, Anni, in a staged hijacking in Cape Town during their honeymoon. Three South Africans have been convicted for their parts in the crime.

Dewani fought a long battle to avoid being extradited from Britain to face trial, claiming psychiatric distress.

Baumann said that since his admission to the hospital Dewani has been calm, alert and co-operative. “He has denied having suicidal thoughts. There are no psychiatric symptoms.”

According the the report, handed to the Western Cape High Court yesterday, Dewani indicted he will appear in court to fight the charges and does not want to delay proceedings further.

He is regarded as a low risk and had been transferred to a new section at the hospital. In the following weeks, his behaviour changed. He seemed more ­anxious, especially during formal interviews, and flinched dramatically at the normal sounds of a busy ward.

“In sessions with the occupational therapist and psychologists, or when he was not aware of being observed by nurses, he seemed calmer.”

The report said he shows no signs of hearing loss (in court, he has sometimes appeared to struggle to hear).

He, however, declined to participate in a recommended treatment programme.

A multi-disciplinary team agree that he is not suffering from depression.

The symptoms of anxiety he displays have more to do with his current situation than with past events, Baumann’s report says.

In contrast, Professor Tuviah Zabow, who was appointed by Dewani’s legal team, writes in her report dated June 3 that Dewani “has a mental illness with the appearance of elements of the psychiatric condition that was the focus of attention when he was in the United Kingdom”.

The nature and severity have improved, but he remains ill with an anxiety spectrum that includes panic attacks and panic disorder.

The report says the clinical diagnosis is panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorder.

“I am of the opinion that the patient needs continued management, care and supervision. My opinion is based on all the available information, including his history and his current clinical status,” Zabow writes.

The goal is to improve his condition so he can follow and understand court proceedings.

In light of the contradictory findings of the two experts, a panel that includes Zabow has been appointed to formally observe Dewani to make a definitive finding on his mental health.

The panel recommended by Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock is:

• Professor Sean Kaliski, Valkenberg’s medical superintendent.

• Zabow, appointed by the court as a psychiatrist for Dewani.

• Dr Claudia de Clerq, in the full-time service of the state, would be appointed as a third psychiatrist.

The defence did not oppose De Clerq’s appointment despite her links to the state.

Tania Swart would be appointed as a clinical psychologist.

De Kock asked that the matter be postponed until August 15, in which time Dewani would be detained for observation.

He said the state and defence had also set down a provisional trial date of ­October 6.

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