Two to deny murder of British bride on S Africa honeymoon

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Two of the men accused of killing honeymoon bride Anni Dewani intend pleading not guilty when their trial starts on July 30 in the Western Cape High Court.

Xolile Mngeni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe appeared in court yesterday for the last leg of their pre-trial conference.

Judge Andre le Grange expressed relief that pre-trial matters were being wrapped up, as the conference had been postponed a number of times since April. The two in the dock appeared calm during yesterday’s proceedings. Mngeni, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour last year, was healthy enough to stand before the judge and was not shaking as he had done before.

His lawyer, Matthews Dayimani, told the court he would be updated on his client’s medical condition by next Friday, following brain scans.

A possible third co-accused is Anni’s husband, British businessman Shrien Dewani. The State recently said it would only add him as an accused once he was mentally fit.

Anni, 28, was shot dead in an apparent car hijacking while she and her husband were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

An order for Dewani’s extradition was signed in the UK in September 2011, but the High Court temporarily halted it on mental health grounds, saying it would be “unjust”.

Dewani is being treated in a mental health hospital in his home city of Bristol. He would be extradited to South Africa as soon as he was fit.

Mngeni and Qwabe face charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and two counts relating to the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. They remain in custody.

In earlier proceedings, the remaining accused, Zola Tonga, was jailed for 18 years for his part in the murder, in terms of a plea bargain.