HARARE – The High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of Harare West MP Joana Mamombe from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where she had been detained since September 24 on the orders of a magistrate who said she should undergo a mental examination by two doctors.
Justice Esther Muremba said the decision by deputy chief magistrate Bianca Makwande was irrational and an unnecessary interference with Mamombe’s right to personal liberty.
The judge said “nothing warranted the placement of Mamombe in custody for the purposes of her mental examination,” according to her lawyer Alec Muchadehama.
Mamombe was arrested in May together with two other female activists and accused of making statements prejudicial to the state. The three women had claimed they were abducted from a police station, blindfolded and driven into the bush where they were tortured and sexually abused after taking part in an opposition protest in Harare.
The trio’s trial was due to start last month but Mamombe was hospitalised days before after complaining of an anxiety disorder. Her lawyers said she was unfit to stand trial.
The prosecution claimed she was feigning sickness and tried to have her bail revoked.
Magistrate Makwande granted an application by the state to have her independently assessed by two medical doctors, but inexplicably said this examination would take place in prison.
Muchadehama said the results of the examinations carried out on Mamombe will determine whether her trial should start or not.
Mamombe’s release comes after her lawyers filed an urgent High Court application asking a judge to for a review of the magistrate’s decision.