IT may be a “kind thing” for Bristol honeymoon murder-accused Shrien Dewani to be returned to South Africa sooner rather than later, a court has been told.
The 33 year-old, who has depression and post traumatic stress disorder, is accused of orchestrating the death of his 28-year-old wife Anni, who was shot as the newly-wed couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.
Dewani is facing extradition to South Africa for her murder, in which he denies any involvement.
Psychiatrist Dr Ian Cumming told London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court: “It could be six months, then another six months, then on and on.
“It could make things worse and could be better to get on with it. Actually it may be a kind thing for him - to actually get on.”
Dr Cumming has visited South Africa and been reassured that the businessman would be admitted to a general ward at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, rather than a unit where people are sent by the courts.
He is confident the standard of Dewani’s ongoing medical treatment will be “robust” and will not drop once he leaves Britain.
He said: “The receiving hospital there will prepare themselves very well. There will be exchange of information and reports and a handover.
“It is likely a nurse will accompany him from the UK to South Africa. I think they would make it as robust as possible.
“They would not stop whatever medication he is on - that would be bad practice and they would not do that.”
Dewani tried to take an overdose in 2011 but since then he has not spoken directly about self-harm or suicide, the court heard.
Dewani’s attitude towards suicide is that “he would not be bothered if he was dead” rather than saying he would kill himself.
He was “evasive” about these questions but he did not seem to have active plans on the matter, Dr Cumming noted.
Dewani’s post traumatic stress is severe, his depressive illness is moderate to severe and his current risk of self harm is real and significant but not immediate, the court was told.
He has received treatment for his mental condition since his wife’s death, most recently at two units near Bristol.
The place where he is currently being treated seems to be a “protective mechanism for him”, Dr Cumming noted.
Previously, Dewani’s lawyers have expressed concerns that he would be a high suicide risk if he returned to the country, and his human rights could be breached because of the risk of violent and sexual assaults in jail, and of contracting HIV or Aids.
The South African authorities have said that if he is found not to be mentally ill, he would be given a single cell in prison to reduce the risk of attack.
Travel arrangements to get Dewani back to South Africa would involve “a lot of logistical and planning” and perhaps even sedation which “would not be ideal” but, according to Dr Cumming, such arrangements would be possible.
Newlywed Mrs Dewani was shot when a taxi in which the couple were travelling was hijacked in the Gugulethu township.
Mr Dewani and driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before Mrs Dewani was driven away and killed.
She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.
Last year, South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting Mrs Dewani.
Prosecutors claimed he was a hit-man hired by Shrien Dewani to kill his new wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied.
Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime, and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.