Dewani ‘hitman’ names girlfriends as alibis

The man accused of killing Swedish honeymooner Anni Dewani told a South African court on Tuesday that his alibis for key times over the weekend she was shot dead included several women.

Dewani 'hitman' names girlfriends as alibis

Xolile Mngeni, 25, has been fingered by co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe — who has been jailed for 25 years after pleading guilty for the murder, as being the one who fired the shot that killed Dewani.

But Mngeni claimed alibis for November 12th to 14th, 2010, when the murder of Dewani was allegedly plotted, carried out and her body found in an abandoned taxi belonging to the newly-weds’ driver in a poor township.

He said he had spent the Friday night at home with a casual female acquaintance and some time with people from his street and denied having been with a co-accused who has already been jailed for 25 years after pleading guilty.

“She left the following day,” he told the High Court in Cape Town about the woman he spent the night with, speaking through a court interpreter.

He said he had then spent the following night when Dewani was murdered with another woman at a shack at one of her friend’s houses, but said the girlfriend was no longer living in Cape Town and that he had lost contact with her.

He refuted testimony by his co-accused Mziwamadoda Qwabe who claimed that he had spoken about the attack over the phone shortly before it took place allegedly as a staged hijacking.

The calls had allegedly come from the newly-weds’ taxi driver, who is serving his own 18 year jail-term over the murder, but Mngeni said he had been with the girlfriend and “at that time I was sleeping”.

On the way home on Sunday morning when Dewani’s body was found in the taxi driver’s car, he said he met a friend with whom he went shopping in Cape Town with and said he met another girlfriend.

None of the potential alibis over the weekend, including any of the women, have been called to testify and Mngeni told the court that he had only recently told his lawyer about them.

The two jailed men have claimed the murder was a paid hit, allegedly ordered by Dewani’s husband Shrien who claims he is innocent and is fighting extradition to South Africa to stand trial for murder.

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Swedish bride murder suspect’s health worsens

A British man wanted in South Africa in connection with the murder of his Swedish wife, who was killed while the couple were on their honeymoon, has suffered a relapse in mental health problems, a court heard on Wednesday.

Swedish bride murder suspect's health worsens

Shrien Dewani, 33, is being treated at a hospital for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder but his lawyer said last month his condition had “improved significantly”.

Dewani’s 28-year-old Swedish-born wife Anni was shot dead when a taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.

Clare Montgomery, a lawyer for Dewani, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London that after he suffered a bad reaction, doctors had taken Dewani off the anti-anxiety medication which was most effective in treating his condition.

“We may have taken one step back having taken two steps forward,” she said.

Despite the setback, the court heard that a full extradition hearing is still expected to start on July 1st.

In view of Dewani’s condition, he has been sectioned for a further 12 months under mental health laws.

The businessman faces charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice. He denies all the charges.

It emerged on Wednesday that the defence made proposals last month for Dewani to make a voluntary return to South Africa, although the details of the offer were not discussed in court.

Under the South African government’s current plans, if Dewani is extradited his mental health will be assessed when he arrives in the country.

If he is considered at risk, he will be taken to the psychiatric unit at Valkenberg pyschiatric hospital in Cape Town, before being sent to the city’s Goodwood prison.

Hugo Keith, representing the South African authorities, told the court they were happy for a defence expert to visit Valkenberg to assess its suitability.

He said he would need to take instructions on whether a similar inspection of Goodwood was possible.

Keith argued that the South African authorities would “trip over their corporate toes” to make sure that Dewani receives the right psychiatric support if he is extradited.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle rejected a request from the defence to put back the full extradition hearing so a specific expert could visit Valkenberg in August.

“I am very, very reluctant to delay this case any further,” he said.

AFP/The Local/dl

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