HARARE – Harare East MP Tendai Biti has pleaded with a court to release his passport as he desperately needs to undergo mental health treatment following his Zambia deportation ordeal.
He told Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo that he needs his passport until October 23 to allow him to travel to South Africa for the treatment.
The MDC deputy national chairman also said he intends to attend to a Pan African Lawyers conference in Tunisia, which is starting on Thursday. He told court that he was picked by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to represent the country together with another lawyer.
Biti is set to stand trial for allegedly inciting violence and announcing unofficial and false results of the July 30 presidential elections declaring MDC President Nelson Chamisa as the winner.
He briefly fled to Zambia in early August claiming his life was in danger but was later deported back to Zimbabwe. As part of his bail conditions, he had to surrender his passport.
The institution offering him treatment is called The Centre for the Study for Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), a non-profit organisation that offers mental health and psychosocial support to victims of violence.
“We have been following your situation since August 8, 2018. We hereby invite you to receive mental health services at our clinic,” a letter from CSVR to Biti, produced in court, says.
The organisation also said “it is not clinically indicated to have such a short period of treatment. Therefore, follow up-up sessions will be scheduled.”
Prosecutor Michael Reza opposed Biti’s application.
“There’s something fishy with the chronology of documents tendered by the defence counsel,” Reza said.
“The letter was written by the organisation on September 14, but Biti did not indicate he has a mental health problem.
Services were to be offered between September 18 and 22. Again, his application was triggered by the invitation he received from the South African organisation which is an unusual way of doing business.”
Reza argued that Biti was determined to escape from the court’s jurisdiction as he did when he tried to escape to Zambia in August after presidential elections.
Biti told court on his initial court appearance that events surrounding the post-election period had left him traumatised.
He said he literally lost his mind when he heard that his mother was abducted by suspected soldiers who terrorised her demanding to know his son’s whereabouts.
He said even his extended family and friends were not spared by suspected state agents.
The magistrate will rule on Thursday if Biti will get back his passport temporarily.