MP Joana Mamombe jailed for two weeks to assess mental state

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HARARE – A court on Thursday ordered Harare West lawmaker Joana Mamombe held at Harare Remand Prison for two weeks to be assessed by two independent doctors after her trial was delayed by what her lawyers said was an “anxiety disorder”.

Prosecutors had applied that Mamombe – whose lawyers say she was abducted from a police station and then tortured for two days – be assessed by state doctors after she was taken ill on September 4.

Doctors at a private hospital wrote to the court stating that she was unfit to stand trial for allegedly making a false police report, leading to dramatic events last week when she was forcibly discharged by the police and taken to court on a warrant.

Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande said while it was evident Mamombe was mentally disturbed, she could not conclude that she was mentally sick because she was not an expert.

“The court is clearly bound to get a clear picture of her mental stability and she has a right to a fair trial, ” she said.

“The court is not an expert on mentality and it requires expert advice to ascertain if the diagnosis will affect the trial. The court should exercise its jurisdiction judiciously and feels that section 26 (of the Mental Health Act) should be invoked.”

Mamombe’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama had opposed the application by the state arguing that requirements of the section being relied upon by the state had not been met.

Muchadehama also argued his client can only volunteer to be examined, something she had already done.

Mamombe is facing charges of faking her abduction together alongside Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri, both members of the MDC Alliance.

Their lawyers say they were arrested at a police roadblock on May 13 after taking part in a demonstration against food shortages that have left half of Zimbabwe’s population of 15m million famished.

Initially the police confirmed they were in custody but later denied knowing their whereabouts.

Chimbiri, an MDC youth leader, said after being taken into Harare Central Police Station, the three had been hooded and bundled into a private car and driven by unknown men to a forest where they were shoved into a pit and terrorised.

Following two nights of terror, they were abandoned at dawn on May 15 in Bindura, where a local heard their cries for help and raised the alarm.

Mamombe will be back in court on October 5. The magistrate said the trial would start then once she was certified fit.-Zimlive

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