Court orders mental observation for Dewani

2014-06-20 12:34

Cape Town - British businessman Shrien Dewani may stand trial for the murder of his wife as early as October if he is found fit by a mental health panel, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

A grey and tired-looking Dewani made his third appearance before Judge President John Hlophe, who received an update on his progress since being detained at Valkenberg Hospital in April.

Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock brought an application for Dewani's mental health to be officially observed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

He said observation was necessary as 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 3 June, were handed up to Hlophe.

"In view of the history of this matter and the current conflict regarding the question 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.


Dewani looked at De Kock as he spoke and fidgeted with the buttons on his smart suit every now and then.

De Kock recommended a panel of mental health experts to be appointed for the purposes of Dewani's enquiry.

The first was Professor Sean Kaliski, Valkenberg's medical superintendent.

Professor Zabow would be 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 15 August, in which time Dewani would be detained for observation.

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

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

"The accused will be ready, fit to plead for the trial to proceed on 6th October, but of course it is subject to what the panel finds."

Hlophe granted the postponement and told Dewani what was happening.

Dewani scrunched his face in concentration and leaned his ear to one side as if to hear what Hlophe was saying.

He stared at the judge with wide eyes and then nodded.

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


According to the indictment previously handed to the Western Cape High Court, he 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.

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 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.

  • Nkosinathi Radebe - 2014-06-20 12:55

    As I said the other day. Murder= Mental observation. It is sickening!! There was nothing wrong with his mental state when he plotted that beautiful young woman's death. Hang the bastard!!

  • Wayne Hambides - 2014-06-20 12:59


  • Dyecha - 2014-06-20 13:25


  • Chase Cameron - 2014-06-20 13:28

    This dude has had more mental observation than any human ever. Don't they know by now what is wrong?

  • Craig Thom - 2014-06-20 13:29

    Seems to be catchy at the moment,kill a woman and then go for mental observation to avoid a harsh sentence,or is it just around wealthy and famous people that it's spreading ?

      Chase Cameron - 2014-06-20 13:32

      It's a disease that only afflicts the wealthy. Shame, money makes people do crazy things.

  • Liyema Mbatiwe - 2014-06-20 13:33

    Has he not been in a mental institution already?? whats this crap abount mental observation anyway??

      Renata Todd - 2014-06-20 13:46

      Precisely. He was in one for 3 years, fighting extradition, in UK until they managed to get his nasty a*rse back to SA. How much more observation does one need?

      Chris May - 2014-06-20 14:51

      It's like getting another firm of auditors in, if the first one could not act (or observe) impartially. What a business to be in.

  • RDynasty LaFamilia - 2014-06-20 13:51

    They tryin to find excuse that he was not in a correct state of mind

  • Rofhiwa Ronald - 2014-06-20 14:02

    Another waste of state resources

  • Allan Brits - 2014-06-20 14:09

    Another Shabiar Sheik

  • Philip Schalkwyk - 2014-06-20 14:51

    He's a sham! Lock him up in a mental institution in isolation and throw away the key.

  • ProfAndyZulu - 2014-06-20 18:21

    I'd say we are all mentally insane to a lesser or larger degree. It is the nature of the reality we live in. To say that he is impaired to the extent that he is not fit for trial seems a stretch...

  • Del Pearson - 2014-06-21 16:33

    He certainly has become a professional at acting, wonder who is training him. Anyone would be in a state trying to hide the truth knowing that the authorities are on to them.

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