Dewani to be sent for mental observation

The court has authorised a panel of experts to assess Shrien Dewani for the next 30 days.

Shrien Dewani arrives at the Western Cape High Court on 8 April 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The prosecution in the Shrien Dewani murder case has applied to the Western Cape High Court for him to be sent for mental observation.

Dewani is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife Anni during their honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010. She was shot dead in an alleged staged hijacking in Gugulethu.

The businessman is accused of paying three men to kill her, which he denies.

Three other men are already serving lengthy jail terms for their roles in the murder.

Dewani was extradited to South Africa from the United Kingdom in April and is being held at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital in Pinelands.

He is said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The prosecution received two conflicting reports on the state of his mental health, prompting the court to authorise a panel of experts to assess him over 30 days.

The application is in accordance with a section of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The state has asked that three psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist form part of the panel that will assess Dewani.

The case has been postponed until August and a provisional trial date has also been set down for 6 October.

Prosecutors have a limited time to try Dewani - if he doesn't stand trial within 18 months, he will have to be sent home.