Cancer halts bride murder trial
Man accused of newlywed's killing in South Africa needs brain treatment
Published 03/08/2011 | 05:00
THE trial of the two men accused of murdering a bride on her honeymoon in South Africa was postponed yesterday while one of them receives treatment for a brain tumour.
A packed court in Cape Town was told that a malignant tumour may leave Xolile Mngeni unfit to stand trial for his alleged part in the killing of Anni Dewani last November.
The latest setback could see proceedings dropped against Mr Mngeni and comes as prosecutors battle to have the bride's British husband, Shrien Dewani, extradited for allegedly ordering the killing.
"If accused number one does not respond positively to the medical treatment he is receiving (the prosecutor) will have to make a decision as to whether it is practical at all to proceed against him at a later stage," magistrate Jackie Redelinghuys said. Mrs Dewani (28) and her husband were on honeymoon in Cape Town when she was shot and killed in a taxi.
Mr Dewani (31), who denies any wrongdoing, told police he had been thrown out of the taxi when it was hijacked in Gugulethu township.
However, his account is disputed by South African prosecutors. The Briton is accused of ordering the carjacking and paying two alleged hitmen, Mr Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, to murder his wife.
Police have so far relied on the testimony of taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has admitted his part in the crime. Tongo claimed in a plea-bargain with prosecutors that Mr Dewani was behind the killing. He was sentenced to 18 years in jail.
Prosecutors are fighting for Mr Dewani to face murder charges alongside the two South Africans and a London court is expected to rule next week on whether he will be extradited.
Since returning to Britain, Mr Dewani is said to be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and his lawyers have argued he is too unwell to be extradited.
He has threatened to kill himself if he is sent to face trial in South Africa and reportedly attempted suicide earlier this year at his home in Bristol.
Mr Dewani's lawyers have tried to argue that his good looks and alleged crime would make him a target for prison gangs in South Africa.
They produced expert witnesses at a Westminster court to testify that prisons there were rife with violence, TB and HIV.
His family have also hired publicist Max Clifford in an effort to counteract what they claim has been a campaign to demonise him in the press.