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Dewani to undergo mental observation at Cape Town hospital

Jenna Etheridge

Following a court order, the mental health of Shrien Dewani, who is accused of killing his wife, will be officially observed at Valkenberg Hospital.

Murder accused Shrien Dewani. (Reuters)

Murder accused Shrien Dewani’s mental health will be officially observed at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, the high court in the city ordered on Friday.

Director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock brought the application for observation before Judge President John Hlophe, when a grey-haired Dewani made his third appearance. He said observation was necessary since 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 June 3, 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. 

A tired looking Dewani looked at De Kock as he spoke, occasionally fidgeting with the buttons on his suit. Since his extradition from the United Kingdom in April, he had been detained at Valkenberg to receive care and treatment in line with his psychiatrist’s opinion that he suffered from a mental illness. 

De Kock asked that the matter be postponed until August 15, in which time Dewani would be detained for observation. Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, said the defence did not oppose the application. 

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 his head. 

Dewani to plead
With his family and UK officials sitting in front of him, he was then led back to the holding cells. According to the indictment handed to the Cape Town high court last month, 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 Anni. In return, the state alleges 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 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. – Sapa

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