HARARE West Member of Parliament Joanna Mamombe has been sent to Harare Remand Prison where she will be examined by two doctors to ascertain her mental capacity to stand trial.
Mamombe is jointly charged with Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa on allegations of faking abduction and the trial was postponed last week after she failed to turn up in court, with her lawyers stating that she was at a mental facility.
Regional magistrate Bianca Makwande yesterday ruled that the youthful parliamentarian needed to be examined after an application by the State which was based on the defence’s claim that she was mentally disordered.
Her lawyers had opposed the application, but the magistrate said they could blow hot and cold, having told the court that their client was mentally disordered, yet opposed suggestions to have her medically examined.
The court said the defence initially appeared to be seeking a temporary variation of reporting conditions on grounds that she was having mental issues.
The court added that on September 15 when their trial was supposed to open, Mamombe was not in court, claiming she was at Borrowdale Halfway House, a mental disorders facility, and that on the following day, they returned for a cancellation of a warrant of arrest.
The magistrate said they even brought a doctor, Fungisai Mazhandu, who stated that it was difficult for Mamombe to comprehend court proceedings as she was having an anxiety disorder coupled with confused thoughts. Makwande said she needed a neutral opinion because the evidence of the doctor did not seem neutral.
She said the court needed to determine the extent of the mental condition as the doctor was not clear or certain.
The State wanted her to be committed to a mental facility while the defence wanted her to voluntarily submit herself for treatment.
Her lawyers had argued that the State’s application was an attempt to infringe on her right to liberty, but the magistrate said the court was not revoking her bail, which was granted by the High Court but was seeking clarity on Mamombe’s state of mind.
Meanwhile, the legislator is demanding $1,8 million from the government following her arrest and prosecution over subversion damages in March last year.
In the summons filed before the High Court, Mamombe wants $300 000 for unlawful arrest, $500 000 for wrongful detention, $500 000 for malicious prosecution, $300 000 for legal expenses incurred defending the malicious allegations and $200 000 for travelling expenses incurred while attending court sessions, with interest at the prescribed rate.
Through her lawyers, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mamombe notified the respondents of her intention to sue in terms of the State Liabilities Act, but to no avail.
The court heard on March 2 Mamombe was arrested on her way to Harare from Nyanga on Parliament business.
She was detained in police cells on March 2 and 3 at Harare Central Police Station before being taken to court where she was formally placed on remand on allegations of subverting a constitutionally-elected government.
She claims that the arrest was without warrant, arbitrary and lacked just cause. – By Blessing Masakadza and Tarisai Machakaire