Dewani trial postponed

2012-09-17 21:07
Xolile Mngeni (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

Xolile Mngeni (Rodger Bosch, AFP)

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Cape Town - The trial of a man accused of killing honeymooner Anni Dewani was postponed in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Deputy director of public prosecutions Adrian Mopp said the next State witness had been secured, but would only testify on Tuesday because there was not enough time for meaningful consultation.

Xolile Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to hijacking, robbing, and murdering Dewani in Gugulethu on 13 November 2010. She and her husband Shrien were on honeymoon at the time.

Shrien Dewani, 32, has been accused of masterminding a plot to have her killed in a set-up hijacking, but he has repeatedly denied these allegations.

The court is hearing a trial-within-a-trial to determine whether a "confession" by Mngeni can be admitted as evidence.

Mopp said about four witnesses had yet to be called by the State for this purpose.

The next witness would be a policeman accused of assaulting and torturing Mngeni shortly after his arrest on 16 November 2010.

Lawyer Qalisile Dayimani claimed on Monday that his client, Mngeni, was taken to the basement of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation building in Bellville, where he was handcuffed to a chair by a police officer.

'Testicles slammed into drawer'

"It was at this basement where the accused had his testicles slammed into the drawer of a desk that was there... and had an evidence bag placed over his head and was suffocated," the lawyer told the court.

The policeman who arrested Mngeni, Lieutenant Colonel Bonginkosi Kwinana, said the accused was lying.

He said that, to the best of his knowledge, Mngeni had never been in any basement. He was also not assaulted while in his presence, which happened to be most of that morning before he was placed back in the holding cells.

Judge Robert Henney said he would like the trial-within-a-trial to be wrapped up soon, to free up time for the trial in the main.

The court was in recess for two weeks from next Monday, with the trial expected to resume on 8 October.

The Judge said he was prepared to listen to closing arguments during the recess next Monday or Tuesday. He would ideally hand down a ruling on Mngeni's statement next Wednesday or Thursday.

The trial could run until 18 November.


Shrien Dewani's extradition hearing was expected to resume in the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

He is being treated in the UK for depression and post-traumatic stress, amid an extradition process to have him stand trial in Cape Town.

Die Burger recently reported that two psychiatrists on opposite sides of the extradition hearing entered into a business partnership, raising a potential conflict of interest.

The newspaper reported that Michael Kopelman and Nigel Eastman formed the Forensic Psychiatry Chamber LLP on 1 July 2011, just days before they issued a joint statement on Dewani's health.

Kopelman was representing the South African government while Eastman was acting on behalf of Dewani.

The Crown Prosecution Service had promised to investigate.

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