THE High Court will on Friday 12 October 2018 hear an appeal filed by Tendai Biti, the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance Vice-Chairperson challenging Harare Magistrate Francis Mapfumo’s refusal to temporarily release his passport to allow him to travel to South Africa to receive specialised medical treatment.
Biti petitioned the High Court after Magistrate Mapfumo on Thursday 27 September 2018 dismissed his application for alteration of his bail conditions which entailed releasing his passport to receive mental medical treatment which is unavailable in Zimbabwe.
In his application filed by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Biti argued that the interests of justice will not be prejudiced if the court grants his application for the release of his passport.
The opposition political party leader wants the High Court to order the release of his passport so that he travels to South Africa for medical treatment from the date the travel document is released to him until Tuesday 23 October 2018, when he will surrender it back to the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates Court until his matter is finalised.
Biti, who is being tried for allegedly violating the Electoral Act is applying for release of the travel document saying he required counselling services for the trauma he suffered during his foiled bid to skip the country last month.
According to a letter he tendered in court, Biti is supposed to go to a private counselling institution for therapy following the rough experiences he went through when he attempted to flee to Zambia to seek asylum soon after the 2018 presidential elections.
The institution is called The Center for the Study for Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), a non-profit organisation that offers mental health and psycho-social support to victims of violence.
“We have been following your situation since 8 August 2018. We hereby invite you to receive mental health services at our clinic,” read part of the letter.
The letter was written on September 14 this year and the organisation intends to take him through therapy sessions from September 18 until the 22nd of September.
Biti is currently appearing in court after he was arrested in August and charged with contravening section 66(A)(1) of the Electoral Act for allegedly announcing the 30 July 2018 harmonised elections Presidential results unofficially and for committing public violence as defined in section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Biti landed in the dock after he allegedly publicly claimed that MDC leader Nelson Chamisa had won the July 30 presidential election, in contravention of the Electoral Act.
He was freed on $5 000 bail and was ordered to surrender his passport and title deeds to his home as part of bail conditions.
He told court on his initial court appearance that events surrounding the election period left him traumatised.
The former Finance Minister further said he literally lost his mind when he heard that his mother was abducted by suspected soldiers who terrorised her demanding to know his whereabouts.
He said even his extended family and friends were not spared the abuses by suspected state agents.
The firebrand politician and lawyer took the court through a heartrending narration of his ordeal saying he even slept in a stinky cell toilet in his bid to escape the country when he felt his life was threatened.
The opposition’s top official also unsuccessfully challenged his arrest and the local court’s authority to hear case.
His application was thrown out by the same magistrate who ruled that he should have his day in court.Biti is seeking mental health services in South Africa.