Dewani trial hinges on mental health

The defence must submit an application in court to determine whether he’s fit to stand trial.

Murder accused Shrien Dewani arrived in Cape Town on 8 April 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said an application would have to be submitted in court in order to determine whether Shrien Dewani is fit to stand trial.

For now, the 34-year-old British businessman is being kept at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.

He arrived in Cape Town from the United Kingdom on Tuesday and made a brief appearance in the Western Cape High Court, where he was formally charged with, among other offences, murder.

Shrien Dewani arrived at the Western Cape High Court in a black Hyundai with tinted windows. Picture: Graeme Raubenheimer/EWN.

Dewani has vehemently denied orchestrating his wife Anni's 2010 murder.

Members of the ANC Women's League protest outside the Western Cape High Court on 8 April 2014 ahead of Shrien Dewani's first appearance. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

Anni was shot dead in an alleged fake hijacking in Gugulethu while the couple were in Cape Town on their honeymoon.

The NPA's Nathi Mncube said, "For him to be observed as to whether he is mentally fit to stand trial, an application has to be submitted in court by his defence and only in some instances by the state. He is mentally ill at this point in time and needs to recover from that."

Police officers and members of the media await Shrien Dewani's appearance in the Western Cape High Court on 8 April 2014. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

Dewani is expected back in court on 12 May.

During court proceedings on Tuesday, Dewani, dressed in a smart black suit and tie, first stood in the dock with his eyes fixed on Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

He frowned during parts of proceedings, twitched at times and also made sudden stares at some people in the packed courtroom.

His father, Prakash, was present in court.

Meanwhile, some residents of the neighbourhood where Anni's body was found says the incident left locals shocked, as the area is relatively safe.

Her corpse was discovered in an abandoned taxi in Khayelitsha's Lilitha Park.