The Westminster Magistrates Court has ruled that Shrien Dewani is to be extradited to South Africa to stand trial for orchestrating the murder of his wife, Anni.
Dewani is accused of masterminding his 28-year-old wife’s murder in an alleged staged hijacking while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.
Dewani, who is currently being treated for depression and severe post-traumatic stress disorder, did not attend today’s hearing in London. The British businessman denies being involved in his wife’s murder, and has appeared several times in a UK court to challenge his extradition on the grounds of poor mental health.
In his ruling chief magistrate Howard Riddle said, “It is not in question that Shrien Dewani will be returned to South Africa. The treating clinicians continue to state that Mr Dewani will recover. There has been recovery, but it has been slow. It may be a long time before Mr Dewani is fit to plead, but he may be closer to that point.
Riddle said that it was not impossible that if returned now, after a reasonable period of further treatment and assessment Dewani will be found fit to plead and a trial can take place.
The courtroom was packed with Anni’s relatives, who wore photographs of her pinned to their clothes, decorated with pink ribbons.
They said they were satisfied with the decision that Dewani should be extradited.
Anni Dewani’s sister Ami Denborg said the ruling was “one step in the right direction” and that the family “will fight this battle to the end.” Denborg hoped he would be sent to South Africa “very soon”.
In an interview on ITV Daybreak this morning, she and her brother Anish Hindocha said the whole ordeal had taken its toll on their parents.
“It’s been a nightmare for my parents, they can barely sleep. We as brother and sister are trying to be strong in front of them, it’s really difficult,” said Hindocha.
His sister added, “My dad has been to every single court hearing in England and South Africa. He’s been travelling just to find out what happened to Anni. My mum’s really struggling with her health, it’s the stress that she can’t really handle.”
In a statement, Dewani’s family said his lawyers would be lodging an appeal.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said it was not yet known when Dewani would be brought to South Africa.
Three men are already serving lengthy jail sentences for their part in the killing.
Xolile Mngeni was sentenced to life imprisonment in December. Mngeni was convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances, premeditated murder and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Zola Tongo were sentenced to 25 years and 18 years respectively for their part in the crime.