Cape Town - “Extreme relief” and “a step closer to closure” was how the family of slain bride Anni Dewani described their feelings about October 6 being set as a provisional date for the trial of her husband, Shrien.
It emerged from papers before the Western Cape High Court that a senior specialist psychiatrist treating Dewani at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital believed the honeymoon murder accused was not suffering from a mental illness and should be discharged from the facility.
Further, defence advocate Francois van Zyl SC, told the court they believed Dewani would be ready and fit to plead on October 6.
Meanwhile, the family of Dewani’s Swedish-born bride, Anni Hindocha, said that they were confident that Shrien, who is accused of orchestrating Anni’s murder while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010, would indeed be fit to stand trial.
“This case is going to be about Anni and nothing else,” Ashok Hindocha, Anni’s uncle and a spokesman for the family, said from Sweden.
While the Hindocha family travelled to Cape Town a few times after the murder, they have remained in Sweden since Dewani’s extradition from Bristol in the UK in April.
According to Hindocha, the case has been focused on Dewani – his extradition and his mental condition – since the killing.
However, Anni’s family were more interested in what had happened to her, so they could find closure.
At the moment, they were experiencing extreme psychological hardship, especially Anni’s parents.
“This case has been about everything but what happened to her… When the case starts, we will come (to Cape Town),” Hindocha said, adding that the burning question for the family was why Anni was killed.
“We want to know why such a beautiful girl had to be killed, and on her honeymoon.
“It was supposed to be the best time of her life… Anni has become more or less a daughter of the world. Perhaps (Dewani) should come out and tell the world what happened.”
While there were many “rumours” about the reasons for the killing, the Hindochas believed that a clearer picture would emerge from evidence presented in the trial.
If Dewani is found fit to stand trial and a final date is set, the Hindochas would travel to Cape Town for the trial.
They would remain in Cape Town throughout, regardless of the expense, “even if it takes five years”.
“There is no cost for the information we want… Not knowing is killing us,” Hindocha said.
On Friday, when Judge President John Hlophe set October 6 as a provisional trial date, he formally referred Dewani for psychiatric observation after an application by the State.
However, Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock pointed out to the court that there were conflicting reports by two psychiatrists on Dewani’s mental condition.
Psychiatric observation was therefore necessary to resolve the issue “definitively”, De Kock said.
Hindocha was reluctant to speculate about the outcome of the psychiatric observation.
He said he had read media reports about and seen photographs of Dewani laughing and smiling, which he described as “positive”, and which strengthened the family’s confidence there would be a trial.
He was grateful for the media coverage.
Dewani will appear in court again on August 15.