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Zimbabwe Police Defy Court in Blocking Doctor's Travel


Peter Gabriel Magombeyi, acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, pictured in Harare in Sept. 3, 2019, was reportedly abducted from his home over recently.(C. Mavhunga/VOA)

Defying a high court's order, Zimbabwe police on Tuesday blocked an activist doctor from leaving a Harare medical facility to seek care in South Africa.

Attorneys for Peter Magombeyi told VOA's Zimbabwe Service that they were headed back to court in the capital city Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, High Court Judge Happias Zhou ruled that Magombeyi, recovering from an alleged abduction, was entitled to leave the country since he is not under arrest.

Magombeyi's representatives, with the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said he needed to travel to be examined for possible physical and psychological harm.

Zimbabwe Republic Police officers barred Magombeyi from leaving Avenues Clinic to go to the airport Monday, the lawyers group said in a Facebook post Tuesday. The lawyers told VOA that they were returning to court after police continued to block Magombeyi's departure.

Magombeyi, a leader in an ongoing strike by doctors seeking better pay and equipment at government-run medical facilities, reportedly was abducted from a Harare neighborhood September 14. He resurfaced five days later outside Harare, saying he was unable to recall what had happened to him.

VOA's Zimbabwe Service was unable to reach the police or health minister for comment Tuesday.

Magombeyi is acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association. His colleagues say the outspoken doctor was abducted for calling a strike September 3 to push the government to raise doctors' salaries, which currently amount to less than $200 a month.

The southern African country is experiencing its worst economic distress in decades, with skyrocketing inflation limiting access to food, medical supplies and other necessities.

At least 52 people critical of Zimbabwe's government have gone missing this year, according to Human Rights Watch.

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