Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Hospital 'exception' for Dewani

Shrien Dewani is facing extradition to South Africa to face trial over his wife's murder

South African authorities would make "an exception" for honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani by allowing him mainstream mental health treatment instead of sending him to a forensic unit, a court has heard.

Psychiatrist Dr Ian Cumming told Westminster Magistrates' Court that he had visited the country and been reassured that the businessman would be admitted to a general ward at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, rather than a unit where people are sent by the courts.

Dewani, 33, is accused of orchestrating the death of his 28-year-old wife Anni, who was shot as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010. He is facing extradition to South Africa to face trial over her murder, in which he denies any involvement.

Dr Cumming said: "They were going to make an exception for Mr Dewani. He would probably be the first person that they would do that for."

Previously Dewani's lawyers have expressed concerns that he would be a high suicide risk if he returned to the country, and his human rights could be breached because of the risk of violent and sexual assaults in jail, and of contracting HIV or Aids.

The South African authorities have said that if he is found not to be mentally ill, he would be given a single cell in prison to reduce the risk of attack.

In a report after visiting the hospital in March this year, Dr Cumming said he had "no qualms about the quality of care".

Members of both Dewani and Anni's families were at court again for the second day of a five-day extradition hearing. Dewani himself has been excused from attending.

Newlywed Mrs Dewani was shot when a taxi in which the couple were travelling was hijacked in the Gugulethu township. Mr Dewani and driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before Mrs Dewani was driven away and killed. She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.

Last year South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting Mrs Dewani. Prosecutors claimed that he was a hitman hired by Shrien Dewani to kill his new wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied. Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime, and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.

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