Anni Dewani murder accused 'may die before trial'

Anni Dewani (r) with Shrien Dewani Anni Dewani and her husband Shrien on their wedding day

One of the men accused of murdering Anni Dewani on her honeymoon may soon die from a malignant brain tumour, a court in South Africa has been told.

Wynberg Regional Court heard Xolile Mngeni was not medically fit to attend proceedings for the foreseeable future.

Mr Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe are accused of murdering the 28-year-old in Cape Town last year.

She was shot dead in a carjacking which her husband Shrien Dewani, 31, from Bristol, denies organising.

Extradition proceedings

Authorities in South Africa are trying to extradite Mr Dewani for allegedly paying to have his wife killed.

He was removed from their taxi after it was hijacked on 13 November and his wife's body was found the next morning in the back of the abandoned cab.

Extradition proceedings for Mr Dewani took place at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London last month and a decision is expected on 10 August.

Mr Dewani's legal team has said he is suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and have argued that he is too unwell to be extradited.

Mr Mngeni was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour soon after his arrest.

Severely predjudiced

In court, magistrate Jackie Redelinghuy told Mr Qwabe: "I can assure you that I am on exactly the same page as you are, concerning your uncertainties.

"If your co-accused does not respond positively to treatment, the state will have to decide whether it is practical to proceed against him, or whether to proceed against you alone."

Mr Redelinghuy, and defence lawyer Thabo Nogewane, said Mr Qwabe had been severely prejudiced by being in custody awaiting trial for almost a year, without the transfer of the case to the High Court for trial.

Mr Redelinghuy said it was clear Mr Mngeni was not medically fit to appear in court but added it would be known at the next hearing, on 20 September, whether he would be able to stand trial.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has admitted his part in the murder of Mrs Dewani, claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Mr Dewani ordered the car-jacking.

The 31-year-old from Bothasig, Cape Town, was jailed for 18 years for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and perverting the course of justice.

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