The trial of MDC Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe and two other party activists — Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova — who are facing charges of communicating false statements prejudicial to the State after alleging abduction and torture by suspected security agents, is expected to start today at the Harare Magistrates Courts.
The three, who are out on bail, are shockingly accused of making false claims of having been abducted, tortured and sexually abused as punishment for staging an anti-Government protest.
The three opposition women were tortured and sexually abused by their abductors, whom they said took them from a police station in May, after they had been arrested for organizing an anti-government protest. Their abductors were unidentified, but because they took the women from police custody, it appears they were some kind of state agents.
The young women were missing for nearly 48 hours before being released by their abuctors. While they were being treated in a hospital for injuries inflicted during their captivity, prosecutors charged them with contravening lockdown regulations for participating in the protest.
The State is expected to lead evidence showing that the trio lied about the abductions to advance a political agenda aimed at discrediting and eventually overthrowing the Government.
The accused are however seeking postponement of the trial on various grounds deemed to be delaying tactics which include claims of suffering temporary insanity.
Lawyers representing Mamombe had asked for a temporary suspension of her bail reporting conditions claiming she was not feeling well and was under the care of a psychiatrist.
Mamombe’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the court that “she had been taken ill and currently under the care of a psychiatrist because of her unstable condition . . . the doctor had recommended a further two weeks to manage . . .”
According to the State, Mamombe and her accomplices were captured on CCTV at Belgravia Shopping Centre in Harare at a time they were claiming to have been in the hands of their abductors.
On May 13 at around 12.30pm, the three gathered at Choppies Supermarket in Warren Park 1 with other MDC Alliance youths and staged a demonstration against the recall of their MPs from Parliament and the alleged misuse of funds for the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the same day they were arrested at a roadblock near the Exhibition Park and were taken to Harare Central Police Station.
Upon receiving the communication, their lawyer Mr Jeremiah Bamu reportedly went to the police CID Law and Order.
Mr Bamu is alleged to have approached a senior officer, saying the accused had been arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station. According to the State, checks were made and it was established that they were not arrested. On the same day, social media platforms and local newspapers were awash with news that the three had been arrested, it is alleged.
Two days later, on May 15 at around 1am, Mr Bamu advised the police that the three were at Muchapondwa Business Centre in Bindura.
The police and Mr Bamu went to the business centre, collected them and took them to a hospital in Waterfalls, Harare, since they had been tortured.
The State will seek to prove that all the claims made by the defendants are false.