As judge censures Makwande for curtailing her liberty
HIGH Court Judge Justice Esther Muremba on Wednesday 7 October 2020
ordered the release from prison of Harare West constituency legislator
Hon. Joanah Mamombe, where she had been incarcerated for close to two
weeks on the orders of Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande.
Magistrate Makwande on Thursday 24 September 2020 ordered Hon. Mamombe
to have her mental aptitude examined by two “neutral” doctors while
being detained at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Magistrate Makwande granted the order after Prosecutor Michael Reza
filed an application seeking to have Hon. Mamombe examined in
accordance with provisions of the Mental Health Act after she recently
failed to appear in court to stand trial on charges of communicating
falsehoods prejudicial to the state.
The Magistrate said Hon. Mamombe should be placed under the
supervision of the Superintendent of Harare Remand Prison while some
“neutral doctors” evaluate her mental aptitude before her trial
But Hon. Mamombe’s lawyers Alec Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bamu, Tinomuda
Shoko and Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on 25
September 2020 filed an application for review and an urgent chamber
application at the High Court seeking a review of Magistrate
Makwande’s decision to imprison the Harare West constituency
legislator and arguing that her detention was unlawful and an
infringement of her right to liberty provided in the Constitution.
On Wednesday 7 October 2020, Justice Muremba agreed with Hon.
Mamombe’s lawyers and ordered that she be immediately released from
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where she had been incarcerated for
In her judgment, Justice Muremba ruled that it was not necessary for
Magistrate Makwande to place Hon. Mamombe in custody for purposes on
being medically examined in terms of the Health Mental Act as she
could have ordered her to undergo the examination whilst out of
The Judge noted that Hon. Mamombe had not breached her bail conditions
and nothing warranted her placement in prison custody for the purposes
of her mental examination.
Hon. Mamombe, Justice Muremba ruled, could still have been ordered to
undergo the mental examination as a state institution by the state’s
The Judge stated that there was no just cause for placing the
opposition legislator in custody thereby depriving her of her personal
liberty, which is jealously guarded in the Constitution.
Nonetheless, Justice Muremba ordered that Hon. Mamombe should still
comply with Magistrate Makwande’s order that she be examined by two
doctors at Harare Remand Prison.
Hon. Mamombe who had been out of custody on bail, was arrested by
Zimbabwe Republic Police members together with opposition MDC-Alliance
party Youth Assembly leaders Cecelia Chimbiri aged 31 years and Netsai
Marova aged 25 years on 10 June 2020 and charged with publishing or
communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in
section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act
and publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the
state as defined in section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act.
The trio was also charged with defeating or obstructing the course of
justice as defined in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act.
Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova went missing on 13 May 2020, when
they were abducted in Harare and were only found on 15 May 2020 after
being dumped in Bindura in Mashonaland Central province.
The trio has already been charged with committing public violence
after they were arrested on 26 May 2020 for allegedly participating in
an anti-government protest against hunger during the national lockdown
period as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section
5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19
Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order,