Court blocks Biti bid to seek mental health services in South Africa

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By Mary Taruvinga

A HIGH Court judge has dismissed MDC deputy national chair, Tendai Biti’s request for temporary release of his passport saying the request was unjustified.

Biti had approached the upper court on Monday appealing against the ruling of Harare magistrate, Francis Mapfumo who denied him his passport.

This was after a South African post trauma counselling centre invited him for therapy saying they had discovered that he could be traumatised following the experience he went through while trying to escape to Zambia to seek asylum August this year.

“There was no misdirection on the part of the magistrate as the magistrate fully applied his mind before arriving at the decision he made,” ruled Justice Eric Kandewere.

Prosecuting, Justin Uladi had opposed Biti’s appeal arguing that the invitation by the South African institution was made without any basis.

“It is important to note that the invitation was made without any basis whatsoever. It was made simply because the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation wherein the centre invited the accused to receive mental health services at their clinic,” he said.

Biti had also told court that he wanted the document to attend a lawyer’s conference in Tunisia.

Uladi said, “If he indeed suffers from any such malady, then how does the accused explain his intended participation at the Pan African lawyers conference in Tunisia at the time when he was suffering from such post-traumatic stress disorder?”

He begged the court to turn down the appeal saying Biti was likely to abscond if ever released.

“He had previously exhibited such tendencies by trying to escape to Zambia,” said the prosecutor.

Biti is accused of violating the Electoral Act after he claimed that MDC leader Nelson Chamisa won the 2018 polls before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) made a formal announcement.

He is also accused of inciting public violence which resulted in the death of six people on August 1 soon after the elections.

Biti once tried to escape to Zambia to seek asylum but was allegedly arrested at Chirundu border post before he was dragged to court.

He is being represented by human rights lawyers and is expected back in court this Wednesday.