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Dewani spends days in a van, UK court told

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 20:31

London: UK-based Indian-origin businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of masterminding the murder of his wife while on honeymoon in South Africa, spends his days in a camper van at a mental hospital, a court was told on Tuesday at a hearing to decide whether he is mentally fit to face trial.

The 33-year-old faces extradition to South Africa over murder charges involving his Swedish-born Indian wife Anni in November 2010.

Dr Ian Cumming, a prison psychiatrist and one of the key expert witnesses in the case, told Westminster Magistrates` Court on the second day of a five-day hearing today that Dewani would receive proper mental health care if extradited.
"They were going to make an exception for Mr Dewani. He would probably be the first person that they would do that for," he said in reference to a visit to South Africa.

He said he had been reassured by the authorities there that Dewani would be admitted to a general ward at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town and not to a clinical unit where people are usually sent by the courts.

Dewani, is currently receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a hospital near Bristol and has been excused from appearing in court.

Dr Cumming told the court that aside from time spent at the hospital and inside a camper van in the car park, he is also allowed home visits.

He also described his interviews with Dewani, who reportedly broke down and required regular breaks as he remembered the night of the murder.
Dewani faces charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice all of which he denies.

His lawyers have previously claimed that he would be a high suicide risk if extradited and that his human rights could be violated, due to the risk of attack and sexual assault in a South African prison.

The court also heard that while he may still suffer from poor memory and an inability to concentrate, he no longer makes references to suicide.

A judge must now decide if Dewani`s mental health has improved sufficiently for him to be extradited or whether conditions in South African detention centres might breach his human rights given his current health.

Anni Dewani was shot when a taxi in which the couple were travelling was hijacked in Gugulethu, near Cape Town.

Shrien and driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before Anni was driven away and killed.

In 2012, Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her.
Prosecutors claimed that Mngeni was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his wife, which Dewani has consistently denied.

Driver Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime.

Another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.

Both Tongo and Qwabe have claimed Dewani was involved in planning the murder.


First Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 20:31

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