BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/RUTENDO MATANHIKE/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Judge president Justice George Chiweshe yesterday dismissed the State’s urgent chamber application to stop Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) leader Peter Magombeyi from leaving the country for South Africa to seek medical attention.
The State had submitted that it wanted more than two more days to carry out forensic tests before Magombeyi could leave the country.
The State had also asked the court to be allowed to “escort” Magombeyi and “provide him with security” to South Africa, but the judge dismissed the application, saying it was an illegal detention by the State.
“It is ordered that respondents or anyone acting through them are hereby ordered to release Peter Magombeyi forthwith and in any event no later than an hour of them being served with this order,” Justice Chiweshe’s ruling read in part.
Police on Tuesday challenged a High Court order issued earlier by Justice Happius Zhou allowing Magombeyi to travel to the neighbouring country. Police argued they were still carrying out investigations on his alleged abduction.
Meanwhile, MPs yesterday put government to task for blocking Magombeyi from seeking medical attention outside the country and in defiance of a High Court order.
Harare Central legislator Zwizwai Murisi (MDC Alliance) questioned whether police had the final decision in allowing an individual to seek medical treatment outside the country.
“I would like clarification on your ruling Mr Speaker, I think that the follow-up question was to say that if an individual’s decision to seek treatment outside the country depended on payment and affordability, is it government policy to then have further requirements before an individual can go and seek treatment outside the country?” Zwizwai asked.
Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala (MDC Alliance) questioned what steps government was undertaking to ensure Magombeyi was allowed his right to leave the country to access health care in South Africa.
“Since the government cannot decide where an individual can seek treatment, we have an issue where the government through the police is denying Magombeyi to seek treatment outside the country. What measures are being taken by government to ensure that Magombeyi accesses medical attention in South Africa considering that police are hindering this process?” he asked.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda dismissed the issue, arguing that the case was currently before the courts.
“This matter has gone to court and we cannot in Parliament interfere with the court process. Let us wait and hear what the court will say,” Mudenda said.
Meanwhile, MDC treasurer-general David Coltart implored the international community to “flex” its muscles against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for allegedly blocking Magombeyi from seeking medical treatment in South Africa.
Magombeyi, who is ZHDA acting president, has been prevented from travelling to the neighbouring country to seek medical treatment following his alleged abduction and torture by suspected State security agents.
Coltart accused government of being “increasingly paranoid” and fearing medical examinations in South Africa might prove Magombeyi was “tortured, electrocuted or even poisoned (or injected with other substances)”.
“The international community must flex its muscles … Having gone to court, Magombeyi has exhausted his domestic remedies against a regime which has scant regard for the rule of law and constitutionalism,” Coltart said.
“It appears his life may depend on a robust demand being made by the international community. (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa himself must be left in no doubt about the severe consequences of this barbaric conduct demonstrated by his government today. In short, the international community must speak out to compel the Mnangagwa regime to allow Magombeyi to seek urgently medical treatment in South Africa,” Coltart added.
“It appears that the regime, confronted by a decision between the devil and the deep blue sea, has now decided that it must prevent Magombeyi from travelling to get this further medical diagnosis and treatment.”
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa in a statement said government was not holding Magombeyi against his will.
“Satisfied that his personal security is guaranteed, government will ensure that Dr Magombeyi is free to travel to a place of his choice without hindrance,” she told journalists in Harare yesterday.