Marry Mubaiwa is at a serious risk of having at least one of her arms amputated after failing to get the medical care she needs to treat her lymphoedema, a court heard on Tuesday.
The Harare Magistrates Court was told this as the 40-year-old estranged wife of vice president Constantino Chiwenga asked for the postponement of her trial for allegedly forging a marriage certificate.
Her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said she was in no condition to stand trial, pointing to heavy medicines she is taking which she said were compromising her mental health.
She said Mubaiwa had been blocked from accessing specialist treatment in South Africa and because of that her condition had continued deteriorating.
“She may end up being amputated because none of the medication she is receiving is working well,” Mtetwa said.
Mtetwa said Mubaiwa – who is also facing a string of other charges including assault, fraud, money laundering and the attempted murder of Chiwenga – underwent a skin grafting procedure three weeks ago to repair tissue damage on her arms.
The trial was scheduled to start before Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube, but it was temporarily torpedoed by Mubaiwa’s application for a postponement.
Justice George Chiweshe of the Supreme Court was lined up to be the first state witness in the fraud and forgery case, but he was excused and told he would be summoned when a new trial date is set.
Mtetwa called a doctor who filed Mubaiwa’s medical report to the witness stand to explain her condition.
Dr Simukai Machawira, a cardiovascular surgeon at Parirenyatwa Hospital, said when the clinical director asked him to see Mubaiwa, she had “impaired lymphatic return which was causing her limbs to swell.”
Muchawira said the former model is currently on six mental variation medication.
She has painful upper limbs, migraine headaches, lower back ache for the past two years and collapses frequently. Mubaiwa also has stiffness on her left hand such that “the fingers no longer open.”
Machawira said the first type of medicine modifies the sensation in her numb hand.
Mtetwa said her research shows that the medicine is used together with other painkillers of a strong kind.
Mubaiwa, according to the doctor, also uses stop pain, migraine pain relievers which also work as antidepressants, sleeping tablets or sedatives, cleanser or detox, and pills that lower her blood pressure.
Her condition causes pain and has to be relieved by the medication.
Machawira said finger deformity is a consequence of capacity gaps in her treatment locally. Mubaiwa’s application to be treated in South Africa was refused by a court, and her legal team blames Chiwenga for interfering with the legal processes.
The doctor said injuries to the nerves were causing Mubaiwa’s limbs to be painful.
Mtetwa asked if the medication rendered her mentally unfit for trial.
“It may alter mental status… but someone who does mental examination may be able to make that determination,” the doctor said.
“A lot of patients are put on medication to control or assist them mentally to cope with pain or stress and as a result they are able to carry their normal day-to-day activities… but I’m not qualified to comment on mental examinations.”
Machawira said when he was talking to her she responded well. He said some patients develop tolerance. He however insisted he could not comment on her mental health, adding: “It’s beyond my expertise to comment on that.”
Prosecutor Michael Reza is challenging the application to delay the trial. Reza said it was “strange” that Mubaiwa, the daughter of former Dynamos chairman Kenny Mubaiwa, was only raising issues of mental health problems now.
“This is a classic case of an afterthought,” Reza said.
Machawira said it was possible she overlooked that and concentrated on her physical injuries.
Reza insisted that Mubaiwa, who is going through an acrimonious divorce from Chiwenga, should have told the doctor about her mental state in the first place.
The prosecutor also said Mubaiwa takes the medication at night which means that when she wakes up she is stable and normal.
Mtetwa, giving her closing submissions, said that one has to be mentally fit in order to stand trial. She said Dr Muchawira’s report did not seek to ascertain her mental state to stand trial, but it does not mean that she is well.
“We pray that you postpone the matter so that she is examined by an expert who will look at her mental health, drugs, dosages she is taking and therefore be able to place before the court whether or not she is in a fit mental state to stand trial,” she pleaded.
Mtetwa said that Chiwenga was the complainant “should not play a role in the cases she is facing”, adding: “Justice must prevail, the trial must commence when she is able to stand it. That is all she is asking for. Fairness.”
The magistrate will make a ruling on Friday.
Mubaiwa is accused of approaching then Judge President George 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.-ZIMLIVE