Court orders appointment of mental health board

Source: Court orders appointment of mental health board | Newsday (News)

BY SILAS NKALA

The Bulawayo High Court has ordered President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga to urgently appoint a special mental health board and tribunal respectively for Mlondolozi Mental Health Institute and other mental health institutions across the country.

This was after four inmates at Mlondolozi Mental Health Institute at Khami Prison Complex in Bulawayo — Simanga Sibanda, Descent Ncube, Siphethangani Ndebele and Lousinonh Siziba — filed an application seeking an order compelling Mnangagwa and Chiwenga to constitute the special mental health board.

Chiwenga was cited as a respondent in his official capacity as Health minister.

The quartet, through their lawyer Godfrey Nyoni, argued that due to the absence of the special mental health board, inmates were being held for an indefinite period, a development they said was illegal.

They argued that the board and tribunal periodically review inmates’ cases.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa last week ruled: “Second respondent (Mnangagwa) be and is hereby ordered within 30 days of this order being served on him to constitute and appoint the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the mental health review tribunal in line with the provisions of section 75(1)(a) and (b) of the Mental Health Act Chapter 15:12.

“First respondent (Chiwenga) be and is hereby ordered to immediately and in any event, within 14 days after appointment of the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the tribunal to appoint other members of the tribunal as provided for in section 75(1)(c) of the Mental Health Act Chapter 15:12.”

In his founding affidavit, Sibanda said he was arrested for rape, attempted rape and unlawful entry in 2010 and during trial, he was examined by two doctors and a psychiatrist who concluded that he had a mental problem.

According to the report, he said, it was found that he suffered from diminishing responsibility. In March 2012, he was further detailed at Mlondolozi and a year later, a tribunal recommended his further detention.

In 2016, a tribunal recommended that he be released to Ingutsheni Hospital. The tribunal never sat again to consider his cases.

“At present, the board and tribunal are not constituted. In essence, no cases are being reviewed for possible release,” the affidavit read.

Ncube, Ndebele and Siziba said they were all arrested for murder, but medical examinations showed they had mental health problems.

The three said they had remained in detention because there was no board and tribunal to review their cases, hence their prayer to have the structures constituted.

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