MDC-Alliance member Joana Mamombe will have to face trial separately from her two co-accused Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova — after she was declared mentally unfit to comprehend court proceedings.
Mamombe will stand trial on her own on charges of faking her abduction in May, while Chimbiri and Marova now face the start of their trial on December 7.
The trial of the three has been postponed several times as a result of Mamombe’s illness.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Mrs Bianca Makwande yesterday ruled that since there were conflicting medical assessments of when Mamombe would be fit for trial, with one doctor predicting nine months, the rights of the other two accused meant that the trials now had to be split.
In her ruling on the State’s application for separation of trial, Mrs Makwande said one doctor indicated that Mamombe required nine months to heal while another doctor, only identified as Dr Mavunganidze, said she would recover within a month.
The conflicting reports left the court clueless on when she would heal.
“In my view, the separation of trial will not prejudice the accused.
“Reports from the doctors are conflicting and at the end of the day, it is unclear whether she will be able to stand trial before six months or not,” she said.
Although the deputy chief magistrate considered that the separation of trials would be cumbersome as two courts had to sit for the same matter, she noted that it would be in the best interests of Chimbiri and Marova to be tried within a reasonable time.
The State, led by Mr Michael Reza, applied for separation of the trials arguing that Mamombe was not mentally fit to stand trial, hence it was prudent to prosecute her co-accused while she took her medication.
Mamombe was declared not mentally fit to comprehend trial proceedings after she underwent medical examinations by three different doctors.
But Mamombe, through her lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama, who is also appearing for Chimbiri and Marova, told the court that she wanted to approach the High Court for review of Mrs Makwande’s decision.
Chimbiri and Marova are expected back in court on December 7 for trial.