CAPE TOWN, April 8- South Africa formally charged extradited British businessman Shrien Dewani on Tuesday with ordering his wife’s murder during their 2010 honeymoon in Cape Town, and remanded him in custody.
After losing a three-year extradition fight, Dewani, 34, arrived in South Africa on Tuesday morning and was promptly whisked to a Cape Town court.
He sat expressionless as Judge John Hlophe ruled that he would be remanded in custody at the Valkenberg mental institution.
“The state and defence have agreed that the matter will be postponed until 12 May and that accused be remanded in custody,” said state prosecutor Rodney de Kok.
“We have agreed that Mr Dewani will be transferred in custody to the Valkenberg hospital.”
Dewani was formally charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and defeating the ends of justice by the country’s elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks.
“Dewani has been accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife. He allegedly ordered local men to carry out a hit on his wife and make it look like a fatal carjacking incident. A substantial amount of money was paid for the hit,” the Hawks said in a statement.
Dewani denies ordering the killing of his 28-year-old Swedish bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.
He claims the couple were kidnapped at gunpoint during their honeymoon as they drove through the Gugulethu township in a taxi.
He was released unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.
Prosecutors allege Dewani hired South African Xolile Mngeni to kill Anni. Mngeni was jailed for life for the murder in December 2012.
Two other men also jailed over the killing allege that Dewani ordered the hit.
– Losing battle –
Dewani had fought his extradition, claiming he has mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.
But a British court ruled last month that after numerous legal challenges, he could be sent to South Africa.
Late Monday, officers from Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service Extradition Unit took Dewani from Fromeside Hospital in southwest England, where he has been receiving treatment for reported mental health problems, to nearby Bristol Airport.
Dewani landed at Cape Town International Airport on a private aircraft, flanked by a medical doctor, a nurse and members of the South African police force and Interpol.
Justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the decision to charter a private plane was taken as a result of Dewani’s history of mental problems.
The authorities feared using a commercial flight may have compromised their case ahead of a full medical examination.
“We took into account the fact that there was undisputed evidence during the extradition hearing that he had displayed suicidal tendencies and the South African government did not want to take chances,” said Mhaga.
“There was a need to ensure that Dewani and the whole team are secure, and that would have been difficult on a commercial flight with many passengers, which had the potential to compromise their security, as his identity is now well known.”
Dewani will still have to undergo tests to see if he is fit to stand trial.
If he is not found fit to stand trial within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.