Sick accused causes Dewani trial delay

2012-07-25 20:17
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Cape Town - The trial of two men accused of killing honeymooner Anni Dewani would not go ahead as planned in the Western Cape High Court next week.

Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe would be back in court on 13 August, Judge Robert Henney ruled in the final pre-trial conference on Wednesday.

The two were due to have gone on trial on Monday, but this was changed after a health concern was raised.

Matthews Dayimani, for Mngeni, said his client's malignant brain tumour cast serious doubt on his ability to concentrate during proceedings.

"That sickness... affects his ability to comprehend... he just sleeps," Dayimani said.

"He's able to give me instructions. The problem is this is going to be a lengthy trial... we can't say he is able to concentrate for long hours."

The lawyer asked Henney to postpone the trial until a neuropsychologist had submitted a report on his condition.

Henney said the Criminal Procedure Act made provisions for a person who did not have the capacity to understand, but he was doubtful if this applied to a person who could not concentrate.

"As far as I understand, if a person is not able to concentrate, it does not do anything to proceedings. As far as I can see... you are ready for trial."

Mngeni would be medically assessed next Wednesday.

Henney said he would postpone the matter to 13 August, at which time the findings of the report would be read.

He said a condition of the postponement was that the trial would start the same day if the report did "not take us anywhere".

The two face charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and two counts relating to the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Extradition proceedings against the prime suspect in the murder, Anni's husband Shrien, would resume on Tuesday in the UK.

Dewani has repeatedly denied arranging the contract killing of his 28-year-old wife. She was shot in an apparent car hijacking while they were on their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

In March, Britain's High Court temporarily halted Dewani's extradition on mental health grounds, saying it would be "unjust and oppressive".

At the time, the court said he would be extradited to South Africa as soon as he was fit. Dewani is being treated in a mental health hospital in his hometown of Bristol, western England.

In earlier proceedings, the remaining accused, Zola Tonga, was jailed in December 2010 for 18 years for his part in the murder, in terms of a plea bargain.

Read more on:    mziwamadoda qwabe  |  anni hindocha  |  xolile mngeni  |  zola tonga  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  honeymoon hijacking

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