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Xolile Mngeni, accused of murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani, is to undergo brain scans to see whether he is psychologically fit to stand trial, his lawyer Matthews Dayimani has said.
“This chap is going for scans on Tuesday and May 21.
“The doctor is going to give us an updated report in order for us to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the application to refer him for observation,” he said yesterday.
“These are the final scans. We have to make our decision quickly before the end of the month. Time is running out, so to speak.”
Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour last year, Mngeni had surgery and chemotherapy.
His health cast doubt over whether he would be able to stand trial, or whether charges against him would be withdrawn.
The decision was made to continue proceedings against him and co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe.
The two appeared in the Western Cape High Court yesterday for the continuation of their pre-trial conference.
Mngeni looked thin and trembled slightly.
Dayimani was caught in traffic and unable to be at his client’s side.
Judge Andre le Grange postponed the matter to next Friday to give Qwabe’s new lawyer, Ken Klopper, adequate time to receive instructions.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila said the defence would have to approach Judge President John Hlophe if it wanted to make an application for Mngeni to be referred for observation in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The observation was an important step in determining whether he was able to understand court proceedings and instruct his advocate.
The State indicated previously that it would oppose such an application.
“They must put up compelling reasons. We have indicated as the State that we are prepared, however, to reconsider our position should there be such reasons,” Ntabazalila said. If Judge Hlophe agreed, the application would be heard in court.
Ntabazalila refused to be drawn on what the next step would be if Mngeni was declared unfit to stand trial.
“We cannot speculate. As it stands now, his last medical report indicated he was fit,” he added.