Date set for Anni Dewani murder trial

 

The trial of one of the men accused of murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani will begin on Wednesday.

Speaking at a pre-trial hearing at the Western Cape High Court in South Africa, Judge Robert Henney said he would accept no further delays in the case against Xolile Mngeni.

Mrs Dewani, 28, was shot in an apparent car hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien in Cape Town in November 2010.

Shrien Dewani, a 32-year-old care home owner from Bristol, is accused of arranging the contract killing of his wife, which he denies.

He is currently being treated by psychiatrists in Britain while he fights extradition to South Africa.

Dewani had married Swedish national Anni Hindocha in India before taking her on a honeymoon to South Africa which included a safari in the Kruger Park and a visit to Cape Town, where they stayed at the five-star Cape Grace hotel.

During an evening out, Mrs Dewani was killed by a shot in the neck after an apparent car hijacking in Gugulethu township.

The court heard today that a recent medical report confirmed Mngeni, one of two men accused of the contract killing, was fit to stand trial, even though he had a malignant brain tumour.

His lawyer Matthews Dayimani said the report concluded his client's "attentional focus" was slightly reduced.

Judge Henney said it would be costly to order transcripts of proceedings, but he would see if an exception could be made.

He suggested Mngeni sit next to his lawyer during the trial, taking notes where possible, and consult during adjournments.

Mngeni looked frail today and had to be led in through the public entrance by a policeman as the courtroom was not linked to a basement holding cell.

He leaned heavily on a walking frame, using one arm to keep a jacket wrapped around his face.

A frenzy ensued when several photographers jostled around the benches to get to him.

His trial had been set down until the end of the court term on September 21.

The prosecution originally intended calling 16 witnesses, but this is likely to be whittled down after his co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe's confessions, which implicated Mngeni.

Dayimani said he was still waiting for the witness list and media footage. The prosecution said all footage had been handed over.

Mngeni faces charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Qwabe pleaded guilty to the same charges last week as part of a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

The plea bargain offered insight into the apparent sequence of events on the night of the murder and implicated Shrien Dewani as the conspirator in a contract killing.

Qwabe said he and Mngeni agreed to the job in exchange for 15,000 rand (about £1,200). He alleged Mngeni pulled the trigger.

Shrien Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations against him. He is being treated in the UK for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the end of July, his lawyer Claire Montgomery told Westminster Magistrates' Court that keeping her client under medical treatment in the UK for 12 months would speed up his recovery and sending him to South Africa would jeopardise it.

The hearing was adjourned to September 18 for a psychiatrist to examine Dewani and give the court more information about his condition.

Only then would a decision be made on whether he was fit to stand trial in Cape Town, the court heard.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones