dewanis in happier times.jpgWhile the battle to have honeymoon murderer accused, Shrien Dewani, face charges in South Africa kicked off, an apparent strategy to grant him bail in South Africa was building.

A psychiatrist has found Dewani to be suffering from “acute stress disorder” and “oppressive adjustment disorder”, reasons which were put before the court why he could not appear on Thursday.

Once the court proceedings were over, grim-faced friends and family of Shrien and his slain wife Anni were photographed exiting the court.

The postponement comes as celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who was appointed by Dewani shortly before he was named as a suspect in the murder of his wife, has fed the local media a steady stream of testimonies confirming his client’s failing health.

Commentators in London suggest this is part of a ploy to ensure Dewani gets bail if his extradition to South Africa is successful.

With South Africa’s extradition arrangement with the UK falling among a small group of privileged countries who are not required to provide prima facie evidence for the order to be granted, Dewani’s defence team face an uphill battle to keep him in the UK.

Newspapers in Dewani’s hometown of Bristol say they are on suicide watch, and all confirm he is losing weight. One newspaper quoted a family friend as saying Dewani “looked like a zombie” when visited two weeks ago.

Dewani is living under curfew at his family’s lavish Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, home.

From early morning yesterday, throngs of British media were at the Westminster courthouse, all eager to catch a glimpse of those involved in a case that has captured the world’s attention.

Many journalists in the packed galleries surrounding the combatants at the centre of the courtroom eagerly scanned the room for a glimpse of investigator Mike Barkhuizen, who has been in England since last week to cement the “watertight” case the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is promising against Dewani. His surname proved a tongue twister for many.

Others sought out Dewani’s South African attorney, Taswell Papier – pronounced in court with a distinct French accent.
Dewani is accused of orchestrating a fake hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, which led to the murder of his wife.

An affidavit submitted to the Westminster court by the NPA says he is wanted in South Africa to face charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances and obstructing the course of justice.

The proceedings yesterday were to ensure the necessary technical requirements were met, which included a certificate from the British secretary of state, who had received the extradition application by South African authorities.

During the hearing, Ben Watson, for the South African authorities, said that following a psychiatric report, Dewani was judged unfit to attend court and was excused by the presiding officer.

With the next hearing on February 8 expected to be a further “jumping through hoops” as the technical details concerning the extradition are placed before the court, Dewani’s attorney, Julian Knowles, yesterday offered to present a further psychological evaluation 48 hours before the start of proceedings in the event that his client was too ill to be present.

Knowles said that in light of his condition, there “may be difficulties” taking instructions from his client. The presiding officer indicated that proceedings would continue even if Dewani was absent.

Dewani’s bail and the conditions set have been extended.