Shrein Dewani declared fit to stand trial

By admin
15 August 2014

Murder-accused Shrien Dewani is mentally fit to stand trial.

A panel of experts at the Western Cape High Court heard today that the British businessman, accused of ordering his wife’s murder while on honeymoon in South Africa, is fit to stand trial which will commence on 6 October.

"The accused is not mentally ill. The accused is not certifiable in terms of the Mental Health Act," Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock said.

Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl said the mental health panel made a unanimous decision, including Professor Tuviah Zabow, who was appointed by the court as a psychiatrist for Dewani.

"We are in agreement. There is no objection," Van Zyl said.

Dewani was under assessment at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Cape Town.

He is charged with five counts relating to the murder of his wife, Anni Dewani. The charges are: conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

Dewani appeared before Judge President John Hlophe, supported by his parents and siblings.

De Kock brought an application in June for Dewani's mental health to be officially observed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

At the time, he said observation was necessary as the mental health report prepared by Valkenberg psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann differed in its opinion to that of Zabow.

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.

In return, the State alleges that 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.

Dewani claimed he and his wife 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.

There will be a pre-trial hearing on 9 September.

- Megan Bursey & Sapa

SAPA

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