Psychiatrist: Give 'improved' Dewani more freedom

Shrien Dewani. (AFP)

Shrien Dewani. (AFP)

There has been an improvement in the mental health of British businessman Shrien Dewani, wanted in SA for the honeymoon murder of his wife, Anni.

The UK Press Association reported that this was conveyed to the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Tuesday.

The court heard Dewani was set to apply to be treated in an open NHS rehabilitation ward after an improvement in his mental health.

Dr Paul Cantrell, the psychiatrist treating Shrien Dewani, would "wish to see" a relaxation in his bail conditions to help in his treatment and ensure his continued recovery.

The 32-year-old is being held at Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health hospital in Bristol where he is subject to a curfew and must be accompanied by staff when he leaves.

Hugo Keith QC, for the South African authorities, said Dewani's defence wrote to the court and the CPS on Friday, including a letter from Dr Cantrell who described Dewani's depression as having "materially improved".

"It is now to be described as moderate rather than severe, that he still suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that in order to assist in his treatment and, to ensure a continued recovery, not only would Dr Cantrell wish to see a relaxation of the bail conditions concerning his curfew and also the obligation that he be accompanied by a member of Fromeside staff when he leaves the premises, but in fact that he should leave Fromeside altogether with a view to being placed in an open NHS rehabilitation ward in the community."

Mental health
The hearing was told that a report by a psychiatrist employed by the South African authorities on Dewani's mental health had not yet been completed.

The report was requested after an earlier hearing at which Clare Montgomery QC told the court Dewani needed 12 months to recover from depression and PTSD before being able to deal with the extradition process.

Dewani, who is accused of arranging the contract killing of his wife Anni in Cape Town in November 2010, is receiving treatment after being sectioned and deemed a suicide risk.

He has previously pledged to clear his name.

The case was adjourned for a further hearing on October 2. An application to vary his bail conditions may be heard on October 12.

Montgomery said keeping Dewani under medical treatment in Britain for 12 months would increase the speed of her client's recovery rather then jeopardising it by sending him to South Africa.

Dewani's 28-year-old wife Anni, who was from Sweden, was shot when a taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town.

She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck after taxi driver Zola Tongo drove the newlyweds to the impoverished area.

Plea agreement
He and Dewani were ejected by the hijackers before Anni was driven away and killed.

Tongo, who has admitted his part in the crime, claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Dewani ordered the carjacking and paid for a hit on his wife.

In March, the high court temporarily halted Dewani's extradition because of his poor mental health.

Sir John Thomas, the president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Judge Ouseley, ruled it was "unjust and oppressive" to send him to South Africa straight away.

But they rejected claims that he should not be extradited on human rights grounds and said it was in the interests of justice that he be extradited "as soon as he is fit".

Speaking outside the hearing, Vinod Hindocha, Anni's father, expressed his disappointment and frustration at further delay in the extradition process.

"Why am I here again today with still no real hope of knowing the full story of why my daughter Anni was murdered?" he said.

"I stand before you a father who has lost his beautiful darling at the hands of a gunman on her honeymoon." – Sapa


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