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Legal aid for Dewani murder accused

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The first man charged with honeymooner Anni Dewani's murder has been granted legal aid, a court has heard

The first man charged with honeymooner Anni Dewani’s murder has been granted legal aid, a court has heard.

Xolile Mngeni, 26, the first suspect arrested in the case, appeared before magistrate Jackie Redelinghuys in the Wynberg Regional Court in Cape Town. Senior counsel Rodney de Kock, the director of the Western Cape Directorate for public prosecutions, confirmed the Legal Aid Board would pay for his lawyers.

Mngeni, of Khayelitsha, is also accused of robbery with aggravating circumstances and and kidnapping. His two co-defendants have appointed privately-funded lawyers and face the same allegations.

The couple’s driver on the night, Zola Tonga, 31, from Bothasig, appeared in court on Monday alongside Mzwamadoda Qwabe, 26, from Khayelitsha, facing the same charges. The trio are alleged to have robbed Mrs Dewani of her wristwatch, a white-gold and diamond bracelet, her handbag and mobile phone. The men are next due to appear at court on Monday.

Mrs Dewani, 28, her husband Shrien and a driver were hijacked on November 13 in a township outside Cape Town. Gunmen forced Shrien Dewani and the driver out of the vehicle.

The body of Mrs Dewani was found the next morning in the abandoned car. She had been shot dead. The couple, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, had only been married for a fortnight before they were attacked.

Mr Dewani is said to be in a “dreadful state” following the attack and is now receiving medical assistance to help him deal with the trauma. He has rejected speculation he was somehow involved in the incident earlier this month, saying: “People who suggest this could not have seen us together.”

His brother Preyen Dewani issued a statement through publicists Max Clifford Associates on Wednesday dismissing “totally false accusations blaming him for what happened to his wife from people seeking to divert this matter away from security in South Africa for ordinary people”.

He said: “Shrien is having to deal with the tragic loss of his chosen life partner on their honeymoon as well as the horrific ordeal of being held up and terrorised at gunpoint before his wife was brutally murdered.”

Mr Dewani has not been asked to go back to South Africa.

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