Brain tumour could spare S. African 'hitman' from trial

2nd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The alleged hitman in Anni Dewani's honeymoon murder could escape prosecution, if a malignant brain tumour leaves him unfit for trial, a South African magistrate said Tuesday.

"If accused number one does not respond positively to the medical treatment that he is receiving, the director of public prosecutions will of course 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.

"But the trial will then in all likeliness, if he is unfit to come to court within the near future, proceed against you," he told the second accused, Mziwamadoda Qwabe.

First accused Xolile Mngeni had a brain tumour removed in June and two medical reports were submitted as court evidence before the case was postponed to September 20.

"He's in the cells but he's not in a condition to appear in court," Mngeni's lawyer, Vusi Tshabalala told journalists.

"Based on what the reports are showing, he has to get chemo."

Meanwhile, prosecutors are fighting for Anni's British husband Shrien to face murder charges alonside the two South Africans accused of her killing last November.

A London court is expected to rule on a bid by South Africa's prosecutions to extradite Dewani on August 10.

Dewani was thrown out of a car and his wife abducted and shot dead on November 13 after the newlyweds were allegedly hijacked in a poor township on the outskirts of Cape Town.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years after turning state witness and pleaded guilty to his part in the killing, but claimed Dewani had ordered the car-jacking and paid him.

Qwabe and Mngeni will remain in custody until the next hearing.

The delay to next month was to get more clarity on his co-accused's medical condition and treatment.

Dewani's extradition proceedings began in May but were adjourned while a psychiatric report was compiled. He has been granted bail but is staying in a secure mental hospital in Bristol for his own safety.

Dewani denies any wrongdoing.

© 2011 AFP

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