HARARE – Veteran lawyer and opposition kingpin Tendai Biti is struggling to cope with the post-July 30 violence to the extent that he needs therapy and counselling services, the magistrates’ court was told yesterday.
Biti said the traumatic disorder came as a result of the harrowing experience he went through at the hands of security agents who subjected him to terrifying and humiliating scenes when he tried to seek asylum in Zambia, at the beginning of August.
His lawyer Harrison Nkomo yesterday approached the court seeking a temporary release of his passport to enable him to travel to South Africa for therapy.
Nkomo told Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo that his client’s trip was a continuation of counselling sessions that Biti had been receiving in Harare adding that he was also billed to attend a Pan-African Lawyers Union in Tunisia.
He said Biti was prepared to furnish the court with an additional title deed to secure his return and urged the court to also consider scrapping his reporting conditions between September 26 and October 2.
“My client needs to attend counselling sessions as a result of what he was subjected to. He has been attending (sessions) in this country at Counselling Services Unit which on September 20 referred him to a centre in South Africa,” Nkomo told the court.
However, prosecutor Michael Reza objected to the application saying Biti was not being honest that he had been referred because there was a letter which showed that the counselling centre had only extended an invitation
“We have been following your situation since August 8. We hereby invite you to receive mental health services at our clinic. Our clinicians have over 10 years’ experience working with victims towards healing from their trauma experience.
“Our services will be available to you from September 19 to 22 enabling you to return to Harare on September 23. It is not clinically indicated to have such a short period of treatment therefore follow-up sessions will be scheduled,” said the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, in its invitation to Biti.
Biti is being charged with violating the Electoral Act by prematurely announcing the July 30 presidential result and inciting public violence.
According to the State, Biti acted unlawfully by announcing such results before the Electoral Board had done so.
It was further alleged that on August 1, Biti was with Jim Kunaka and met some of the 60 demonstrators that clashed with the army in town.