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The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has indicated it will oppose moves by counsel for one of the Anni Dewani murder accused, who is receiving treatment for a brain tumour, to have him referred for observation in respect of his fitness to stand trial.
This emerged late yesterday after Xolile Mngeni appeared in the Western Cape High Court with his co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe. They are accused of killing Dewani, allegedly on order from her husband Shrien Dewani.
The court also heard from Mngeni’s advocate, Matthews Dayimani, who said Mngeni’s oncologist had warned against his previous court appearance, as well as yesterday’s. He said his client’s immune system was compromised by the cancer treatment he was receiving, leaving him vulnerable to infection.
Mngeni stood shivering in the dock yesterday.
Shrien Dewani is still in the UK, after two British judges ordered that his extradition case be remitted back to the Westminster Magistrate’s Court for a further hearing.
In a judgment, it was ruled that he should be extradited when he is fit to stand trial.
Another accused, Zola Tongo, was sentenced to an effective 18 years in prison by Judge President John Hlophe.
Tongo was the chauffeur who drove the Dewanis while they were in Cape Town.
Dayimani said he had addressed correspondence to the prosecuting authority based on a report from an oncologist Dr Jeannette Parkes, who is treating Mngeni.
Dayimani explained that he had raised the issue with Pollsmoor Prison, but was told they could do nothing without correspondence from the court and the prosecuting authority.
He told the court that correspondence in this regard had been sent to prosecutors for a referral for observation of medical fitness.
A letter signed by Rodney de Kock, director of public prosecutions, Western Cape, was released to the media. Undated, it indicated their intention to oppose the application.
Judge Robert Henney read out a document discussing Mngeni’s health, which detailed that he experienced headaches, and double vision, and had poor co-ordination in his right hand.
However the document added that he was also co-operative, could comprehend court proceedings, and was fit enough to attend court.
Judge Henney said Dayimani would have to bring substantial evidence for an application for referral for observation to determine Mngeni’s fitness to stand trail.
“It has to be based on something proper in terms of the law,” he said.
State Prosecutor Shareen Riley said she would oppose Dayimani’s application for a referral.
“We have indicated that if we receive updated information, we will reconsider,” she said.
During the proceedings, Thabo Nogemane, for Qwabe, told the court he was withdrawing for lack of “financial instruction”.
Qwabe told Judge Henney he would apply for legal aid.
Henney said that before the July trial begins, a new legal representative must be appointed for Qwabe. He must also be given the docket, and take instructions.
Judge Henney postponed the pre-trial conference to May 11. - Saturday Argus