Anni Dewani murder: South African man accused of shooting dead Swedish honeymooner will go ahead


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The Independent Online

The trial of a South African man accused of shooting dead Swedish honeymooner Anni Dewani will go ahead on Wednesday after judges found him fit to stand trial.

Xolile Mngeni, who is charged with killing Ms Dewani allegedly on the instructions of her British husband, has a brain tumour and his lawyers protested that he suffers from seizures and blackouts. However, a South African court ruled that the accused was able to understand the proceedings against him.

The trial over the 2010 honeymoon killing has been delayed by the alleged shooter's condition. Mr Mngeni underwent surgery to remove the tumour after being arrested in connection with the murder. He needed a walker and police assistance to attend today's hearing in Cape Town.

Defence lawyer Qalisile Dayimani said it was difficult for his client to stay awake during hearings due to the blackouts. But he accepted the judge's findings: "We want to get through this,” he told reporters. "Everybody wants (a) finale. It has been two years."

Mr Mngeni's two alleged accomplices have already been tried and convicted for their part in the killing of the 28 year old Swede. All three men claim they were hired by Shrien Dewani, whom they said wanted the murder to be made to look like a botched car-jacking.

Mr Dewani has denied any involvement in the death of his wife and has remained in the UK where his family and lawyers have been fighting an extradition request from South Africa.

She was shot dead in November two years ago after a taxi the couple were travelling in was stopped in the impoverished Gugulethu township in Cape Town. Zola Tongo, the taxi driver whom prosecutors say husband Mr Dewani asked to plot the murder, earlier pleaded guilty to charges over the killing and received an 18-year prison sentence. The other shooter, Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison last week.

Prior to his conviction, Qwabe told the court that Mr Mngeni had fired the killing shot from the front passenger seat and received £1,180 for his part in the killing.

Both of the convicted men have said the Briton had hired them to carry out the killing.

The British High Court put a temporary stop on the businessman's extradition on 30 March on the grounds of mental health problems.

The Dewani family have argued that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression which would be worsened by returning to South Africa to stand trial. The UK had initially granted the extradition. His lawyers maintain that he would need at least a year to recover from his mental health problems before he would be fit to travel.