A court on Wednesday cancelled an arrest warrant issued against Harare West MP Joana Mamombe after she was forcibly discharged from a hospital by police and taken to court.
The warrant was issued on Tuesday after Mamombe – who is receiving mental health treatment – failed to attend court where she is jointly charged with two other MDC Alliance activists Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri for allegedly staging their abduction in May.
The women were abducted on May 13 and held for two nights in the bush during which they were tortured and sexually abused, according to their lawyers.
Police arrested them and charged them with faking the abduction.
Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande heard from Mamombe’s friend Portia Makoni who told how the 27-year-old fell sick on September 4 after complaining of a headache and dizziness. She was taken to hospital that evening and immediately admitted.
Prosecutors had told the court that Mamombe was seen out shopping on September 4, and vainly tried to have CCTV footage from an Avondale supermarket played in court.
Makwande said the video was unnecessary as it did not prove where Mamombe was on September 15 when she was due in court, and when an arrest warrant was issued.
Medical doctor Fungisai Makombe Mashandu was also called to the witness stand and testified that she began treating Mamombe in May following the three women’s release by their alleged captors.
Dr Mashandu told the court that on Tuesday, Mamombe was at the Borrowdale Halfway House, a rehabilitation hospital offering therapeutic care for psychological health problems.
The doctor said Mamombe’s treatment requires that she be given sleeping tablets during the day, which affected her level of concentration with periodic blackouts hence she was not fit to appear in court.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama then applied for the cancellation of the warrant, saying the witness testimony proved that Mamombe was not in wilful default.
Prosecutors tried to have the court find Mamombe in default, with the consequence that her bail would be revoked. Their key piece of evidence was the video from September 4 which they argued proved that Mamombe was not ill.
Magistrate Makwande said she was satisfied that Mamombe was in hospital as she blocked the video from being played.
Mamombe was remanded out of custody to September 22 when the trial is expected to start.
She was returned to hospital following the court appearance.