Honeymoon murder-accused Shrien Dewani

Cape Town - British businessman Shrien Dewani may stand trial for the murder of his wife as early as October if he is found fit by a mental health panel, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

A grey and tired-looking Dewani made his third appearance before Judge President John Hlophe, who received an update on his progress since being detained at Valkenberg Hospital in April.

Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock brought an application for Dewani's mental health to be officially observed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

He said observation was necessary as the mental health report prepared by Valkenberg psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann differed in its opinion to that of Professor Tuviah Zabow, acting on behalf of Dewani.

Both reports, compiled on June 3, were handed up to Hlophe.

“In view of the history of this matter and the current conflict regarding the question whether the accused suffers from a mental illness and its potential impact on his fitness to stand trial, the State is of the view that the matter must be resolved definitively,” he said.

Dewani looked at De Kock as he spoke and fidgeted with the buttons on his smart suit every now and then.

De Kock recommended a panel of mental health experts be appointed for the purposes of Dewani's enquiry.

The first was Professor Sean Kaliski, Valkenberg's medical superintendent.

Professor Tuviah Zabow would be appointed by the court as a psychiatrist for Dewani.

Dr Claudia de Clerq, in the full-time service of the State, would be appointed as a third psychiatrist.

The defence did not oppose De Clerq's appointment despite her links to the State.

Tania Swart would be appointed as a clinical psychologist.

De Kock asked that the matter be postponed until August 15, in which time Dewani would be detained for observation.

He said the State and defence had also set down a provisional trial date of October 6.

Francois van Zyl, for Dewani, said the defence did not oppose the application for observation.

“The accused will be ready, fit to plead for the trial to proceed on 6th October, but of course it is subject to what the panel finds.”

Hlophe granted the postponement and told Dewani what was happening.

Dewani scrunched his face in concentration and leaned his ear to one side as if to hear what Hlophe was saying.

He stared at the judge with wide eyes and then nodded.

With his family and United Kingdom officials sitting in front of him, he was then led back to the holding cells. - Sapa