NPA welcomes ruling on Dewani extradition appeal

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pretoria - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has welcomed the judgment handed down by the British High Court concerning the extradition appeal of Shrien Dewani.

On Friday, the British High Court temporarily halted the extradition of Dewani - the British man accused of arranging his wife's murder while on honeymoon in South Africa.

Dewani's extradition to South Africa was approved in August last year but Dewani appealed that decision.

"The High Court has essentially found that in the light of the medical evidence that Mr Dewani suffered from unusual combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression to a severe degree, that extradition at this stage would worsen his condition and make it more difficult to get him into a position where he is fit to plead.

"It is in the interest of justice to facilitate his recovery so that the trial can proceed sooner rather than later," NPA spokesperson Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said.

The High Court concluded that the Chief Magistrate should have ruled that the extradition hearing be adjourned until it appeared to the court that it would no longer be unjust or oppressive to extradite Dewani.

However, it also noted that it was plainly in the interests of justice that Dewani stand trial in South Africa as soon as he is fit to be tried.

"The NPA is particularly pleased by the ruling that, in the light of the evidence presented at the hearing, the conditions in South African prisons would not violate Mr Dewani's human rights and that it is in the interests of justice that Mr Dewani stand trial in South Africa as soon as he is fit to be tried," said Mhaga.

The NPA also noted that Dewani's legal team did not contend that he would not receive a fair trial in South Africa.

The extradition hearing will now be enrolled before the Chief Magistrate, Judge Riddle, within 28 days.

"Judge Riddle will manage the further conduct of the proceedings, including receiving additional reports on Mr Dewani's mental health. Upon receipt of these reports, any other material he deems appropriate, he will be called upon to decide whether Mr Dewani is fit to be stand trial and be extradited to South Africa," Mhaga explained.

Anni Dewani was murdered while the newlyweds were honeymooning in South Africa. Dewani claimed the couple was hijacked while driving through Khayelitsha in November 2010 and that he was forced out of the vehicle.

Anni's body was found in the abandoned vehicle the next day. She had been shot.

Dewani returned to the UK shortly after his wife's death and was arrested thereafter.

Zola Tongo, the man who chauffeured the couple, claimed in court that Dewani gave him R15 000 as payment to kill Anni.

Tongo was sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment for his role in the crime.