'Jolly' Dewani looks on bright side

12 May 2014 - 02:00 By Philani Nombembe
FIRST STEPS TO JUSTICE: Shrien Dewani arrives in Cape Town on Tuesday to make his first court appearance
FIRST STEPS TO JUSTICE: Shrien Dewani arrives in Cape Town on Tuesday to make his first court appearance

Honeymoon murder accused Shrien Dewani's condition seems to have improved since his admission to Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town a month ago.

A source said Dewani was not as reclusive as when he first arrived at the hospital, and seemed jolly.

"He no longer acts weirdly, he greets and chats to people about a lot of things and how beautiful Cape Town is," the source said. "He does yoga in his room which lasts about 30 minutes and goes for walks and jogs in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon."

The state is expected to request more time to assess Dewani's mental state when he appears in the Western Cape High Court today.

Dewani has been kept at Valkenberg since April 8, the day he arrived from the UK and appeared before Judge John Hlophe.

Today's appearance, known in legal circles as the pre-trial conference, is expected to be a meeting to thrash out preliminary issues before the trial starts.

It will also assess medical reports from Valkenberg hospital on his condition. Dewani arrived in Cape Town after a drawn-out extradition process, which he fought in the British courts where it was argued, among other things, that he was depressed and unfit to stand trial.

According to sources at Valkenberg hospital, Dewani continues to have access to a laptop, an iPad and books in his ward in the high-care section of the facility. Police officers watch him through one-way glass day and night. His family, including his father, mother and brother, visit him regularly.

Dewani is said to be "happier and more interactive now" - a marked improvement since his arrival when he was withdrawn and jittery, and apparently "freaked" when his bed was moved by a cleaner, causing it to screech.

The South African government undertook to assess Dewani's mental state and fitness for trial as part of its extradition deal with the UK. If within 18 months he is still deemed unfit to stand trial, he will be sent back to England.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that a London-based sadomasochism escort or S&M master is set to be the prosecution's key witness when Dewani's murder trial starts.

Leopold Leisser is expected to support allegations that Dewani is gay and plotted to have his bride killed during their 2010 honeymoon in Cape Town in order to get out of their arranged marriage. Dewani has repeatedly denied the charges.

Leisser, 39, who is also known as "German Master", told police that Dewani had paid him more than R16000 on three separate occasions to have sex. - Additional reporting by Caryn Dolley