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Lawyers slam ‘grave injustice’ as ailing Marry Mubaiwa gets locked up for 10 days

HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s estranged wife Marry Mubaiwa was cruelly sent to prison for 10 days on Tuesday – a magistrate said to allow two state doctors to determine if she is mentally fit to stand trial.

Two doctors who examined the 40-year-old former model gave conflicting opinions on her physical and mental state to be tried on charges of false representation. The charges stem from a complaint by Chiwenga that she lied to a judge that the vice president – who ill at the time in 2019 – wanted their marriage solemnised by a magistrate.

“A report by a psychiatrist indicated that the accused has a mental disorder. The trial cannot, therefore, proceed at this stage in light of the evidence that this court has been furnished with that the accused has a mental disorder. This matter will therefore be postponed,” magistrate Lazini Ncube ruled, relying on Section 26 of the Mental Health Act.

“The court will direct that two medical practitioners should examine the accused and enquire into her mental state. For the purpose of that medical examination, the accused shall be in the custody of the officer in charge Harare Remand Prison… The examination should be done within 10 days of this order.”

Lawyers for Mubaiwa – who has previously been wheeled to court on a stretcher bed suffering from acute lymphoedema – called the magistrate’s ruling a “grave injustice.”

“Clearly we think this is a horrific injustice. It seems the state is persecuting our client pursuing personal agendas. Putting someone who is clearly, extremely unwell into prison custody is a grave injustice,” a member of her legal team Doug Coltart said outside court.

“We’ll immediately take this decision on review to the High Court and try to have it overturned as quickly as possible so that she can be taken out of custody, but of course you’re very well aware that these court processes take time and in the meantime she will be languishing in prison.”

Coltart said Mubaiwa “has not been denied bail, has not been convicted of anything” adding: “This is incarceration supposedly on medical grounds, but this is someone doctors have already stated what her medical condition is, so there is absolutely no legal purpose why she is incarcerated now.”

Magistrate Ncube has already heard from two experts – Dr Percy Simukayi Machawira and Dr Fungisai Makombe Simone Mazhandu, a specialist psychiatrist.

Dr Machawira, a specialist cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, catalogued Mubaiwa’s physical injuries including a skin graft on the right forearm conducted in September. He however concluded that “my opinion is that the physical findings do not inhibit Mubaiwa from physically standing trial.”

The court then ordered a mental examination following an application by the defence, and Dr Mazhandu gave her opinion.

She opined: “Upon examination Marry Mubaiwa had difficulty concentrating and a low, anxious mood. She had insomnia, reduced appetite and energy, and symptoms of anxiety attacks.

“It is my opinion that Marry Mubaiwa has a mental disorder – Major Depressive Disorder – with comorbid Anxiety Disorder. She is not currently able to stand trial.”

Mubaiwa, through her legal team led by Beatrice Mtetwa, has been challenging trial commencement on two unrelated charges she is facing: the present case of false representation and forgery and a second in which she is accused of assaulting her former child minder.

Former judge president George Chiweshe, now of the Supreme Court, is the first state witness lined up to give testimony in the false representation case.

Mubaiwa is accused of approaching Justice Chiweshe and misrepresenting that she and Chiwenga had agreed to wed under the Marriage Act at a ceremony on July 2, 2019, at their home at 614 Nick Price Drive, Borrowdale Brooke, Harare.

She allegedly submitted copies of national identity documents of both of them to Justice Chiweshe, who then contacted Acting Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi to look for a magistrate to solemnise the marriage.

Mutevedzi, being the highest ranking marriage officer in the judiciary, took up the task personally.

He noticed that the couple had not submitted passport size photos and their addresses, before contacting JSC Acting Secretary Walter Chikwana, who in turn contacted Mubaiwa, who submitted all the missing documents.

Mutevedzi then prepared registration forms and the marriage certificate before the ceremony, but when he went to the Borrowdale Brooke address to solemnise the marriage, he was denied access.

Investigations revealed that an order for two diamond rings had already been placed with a jewellery shop at Newlands, Harare, in preparation for the wedding.

Prosecutors allege that Mubaiwa was trying to force through a marriage without Chiwenga’s consent. Chiwenga was reportedly ill at the time.

Mubaiwa also faces other charges of money laundering and attempted murder after Chiwenga claimed she tried to kill him while he was hospitalised in South Africa by pulling his life support tubes.

Mubaiwa denies all charges and accuses Chiwenga of interfering with judicial processes to keep her away from their children whom she has not been allowed to see in more than two years.



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