The family of a bride who was murdered on her honeymoon says the ‘battle has just begun’ after a court ruled that her husband should be extradited to South Africa to face trial over the death. Shrien Dewani, 33, is suspected of ordering the killing of his new wife Anni, 28, who was shot as the couple traveled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.
Lawyers acting for the honeymoon murder suspect intend to appeal against today’s ruling that he should be extradited, a spokesman for his family said today. But Anni Dewani’s family said they were satisfied with the decision that Dewani should be extradited. They said: ‘We will fight this battle to the end and this battle has just begun.’
Today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court he lost his extradition battle as Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle decided Dewani should return to the country. Chief Magistrate Riddle told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that Dewani should return to the country, despite arguments by his defence team that he could suffer setbacks in his mental health if sent back now. They argued that the decision should be delayed by six months. The businessman has been receiving treatment for depression and post traumatic stress disorder at mental hospitals near Bristol since his wife’s death. But prosecutors claim that it would not be ‘oppressive’ to extradite the businessman to face trial, and that there has been a ‘significant and sustained improvement’ in his mental health in recent months.
Hugo Keith QC, for the South African government, admitted that he is currently not fit to plead, but argued that this should not stop the extradition process. During a full extradition hearing earlier this month, Professor Nigel Eastman said that extraditing Dewani could worsen his condition. ‘If he goes now, he will be in a poorer state than if he goes in six months’ time,’ he said. ‘If he goes to South Africa and does not improve, he is at risk of being chronically ill and chronically unfit to plead.’
It emerged during the four-day hearing that while resident at Fromeside and Blaise View mental health units Dewani was allowed to walk home every day, and a camper van was set up in the grounds where he would spend long periods of time.
District Judge Riddle ruled in 2011 that Dewani should be sent back to South Africa, but this was successfully appealed against and he was ordered to look again at the case. So far three men have been convicted over Mrs Dewani’s death. Last year South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her. Prosecutors claimed that he was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his new wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied.
Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the killing, and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.
Today the courtroom was packed with Mrs Dewani’s relatives, who wore photographs of her pinned to their clothes, decorated with pink ribbons.
A TIMELINE OF THE MURDER OF ANNI DEWANI
- November 13 – Shrien and Anni Dewani’s cab is hijacked as their chauffeur drives them through the rough township of Gugulethu on the outskirts of Cape Town on their honeymoon. Dewani escapes but his wife is driven off and killed. Her body is found the next morning in the back of the abandoned vehicle. A subsequent post-mortem examination finds she was shot in the neck.
- November 16 – Dewani leaves South Africa. Xolile Mngeni, from the township of Khayelitsha, is arrested by Western Cape Police.
- November 17 – Mngeni is charged with the hijacking and murder.
- November 18 – Police arrest a second suspect, Mzwamadoda Qwabe, also from Khayelitsha.
- November 20 – Police arrest a third suspect, the couple’s taxi driver Zola Tongo, from Cape Town.
- December 7 – Tongo is jailed for 18 years after making a plea agreement with prosecutors. The taxi driver claims Dewani offered him 15,000 rand (£1,300) to have his wife killed – something strongly denied by the British businessman’s family. Dewani is arrested in Bristol under a South African warrant on suspicion of conspiring to murder his wife.
- December 8 – Dewani appears at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London and is remanded in custody as the South African authorities fight to extradite him.
- March 3 – Dewani, who is said to be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, is sent to the Priory Hospital in Bristol.
- April 20 – Dewani is compulsorily detained under the Mental Health Act at Fromeside Clinic, a secure hospital in Bristol.
- May 3-5 – Dewani’s extradition hearing begins at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London. Prosecutors cite an unnamed witness who claims Dewani confessed he needed to ‘find a way out of’ his marriage months before the wedding.
- August 10 – District Judge Howard Riddle rules that Dewani can be extradited to South Africa to stand trial.
- September 28 – Home Secretary Theresa May signs an order for Dewani to be extradited to South Africa.
- September 30 – Dewani lodges a High Court appeal against Mrs May’s decision.
- February 10 – The Western Cape High Court in South Africa hears that Dewani is to be added as the fourth accused when the murder trial eventually gets under way.
- March 30 – The High Court temporarily halts Dewani’s extradition, ruling that it would be ‘unjust and oppressive’ to order his removal. But the court said it was plainly in the interests of justice that he should be extradited ‘as soon as he is fit’ to be tried.
- August 8 – South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority announces that Qwabe has pleaded guilty to murdering Mrs Dewani along with charges of kidnapping, robbery and the illegal possession of a firearm. He is jailed for 25 years.
- In a statement as part of his plea deal, Qwabe said that after he and Mngeni staged the fake hijacking, he drove the car as Mngeni kept a pistol pointed at Mrs Dewani in the back seat before shooting her.
- November 19 – Mngeni is found guilty of premeditated murder at the Western Cape High Court. He is also convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. But he is acquitted of Mrs Dewani’s kidnapping.
- December 3 – Dewani is allowed to switch from Fromeside to Blaise View mental health hospital in Bristol, described as a more ‘open, relaxed and calm environment’, after a court hears he is a ‘husk’ of his former self and ‘adapted poorly’ to treatment.
- December 5 – Xolile Mngeni is jailed for life for shooting Mrs Dewani.
- February 13 – Dewani is admitted to hospital suffering chest pains, his family say.
- April 11 – Dewani’s mental health is said to have improved ‘significantly,’ a court hears.
- May 15 – His QC Clare Montgomery tells another court update that his mental health has deteriorated.
- July 1 – The full extradition hearing begins at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
- July 24 – Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle rules Dewani should be extradited to South Africa