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Opposition MDC's Tendai Biti Files Petition in High Court for Urgent Release of His Passport

FILE: Zimbabwean opposition official Tendai Biti arrives at the magistrates courts in Harare, Thursday Aug. 9, 2018. Biti was deported to Zimbabwe following his arrest in Zambia after his asylum bid was rejected. Biti's plight has raised concerns about a wave of repression against the opposition by the government of Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The High Court will on Friday hear an appeal filed by Tendai Biti, vice chairperson of the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance, challenging Harare Magistrate Francis Mapfumo’s refusal to temporarily release his passport to allow him to travel to South Africa to receive specialized medical treatment.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda says Biti petitioned the High Court after Magistrate Mapfumo last month dismissed his application for alteration of his bail conditions which entailed releasing his passport to receive specialized medical treatment which is unavailable in Zimbabwe.

In his application filed by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Biti argued that the interests of justice will not be prejudiced if the court grants his application for the release of his passport.

The opposition political party leader wants the High Court to order the release of his passport so that he travels to South Africa for medical treatment from the date the travel document is released to him until Tuesday 23 October 2018, when he will surrender it back to the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates Court until his matter is finalized.

Biti is currently appearing in court after he was arrested in August and charged with contravening Section 66(A)(1) of the Electoral Act for allegedly announcing the 30 July 2018 presidential election results unofficially and for committing public violence as defined in Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

He fled to Zambia where he was deported by the authorities, who allegedly worked in conjunction with Zimbabwean authorities, to ensure that he was sent back home.

Biti claims that he was traumatized by the deportation as Zambians handed him over to Zimbabwe’s state security agents, who were looking for him.

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