Man accused of killing wife battles with stress problem

A BUSINESSMAN accused of ordering the murder of his new wife is suffering from acute stress, a court heard yesterday.

Shrien Dewani, 31, is accused of hiring a hitman to kill Anni, 28, on their honeymoon in South Africa.

Mr Dewani was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with an acute stress disorder and a depressive adjustment disorder, Westminster Magistrates' Court in London heard.

He did not attend yesterday's hearing, which was adjourned to February 8 at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court.

Ben Watson, for the South African authorities, told the hearing that following a psychiatric report Mr Dewani was judged unfit to attend court and was therefore excused by the judge.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said he will review whether Mr Dewani should attend on February 8 when the extradition case against him will be formally opened.

The court heard he is facing charges of conspiracy to murder, murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances and obstruction of the administration of justice.

The South African authorities are seeking to have Mr Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, taken back to the country to stand trial.

Mrs Dewani, from Sweden, was shot when the taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town on November 13.

She was found dead in the back of an abandoned cab with a bullet wound to her neck after cabbie Zola Tongo drove the newlyweds to the township.

His vehicle was hijacked and he and Mr Dewani were ejected before Mrs Dewani was driven away and killed.

Mr Watson said the South African authorities believe Mr Dewani conspired with others to make it "appear as if they had both been the victims of a random hijacking".

The next hearing is expected to deal with procedural matters and last about half an hour before it is adjourned to a later date.

Julian Knowles, for Mr Dewani, said in light of his condition there "may be difficulties" taking instructions from his client. The judge extended Mr Dewani's bail.

In a plea bargain with the South African authorities, Tongo claimed Mr Dewani offered him 15,000 rand (1,400) for the killing. Tongo, 31, from Bothasig, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and perverting the course of justice.

Xolile Mnguni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, who are charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances, will appear before court on February 25.