The leader of Zimbabwe doctors’ union who was abducted and allegedly tortured for leading a doctors strike left the country late Thursday for “urgent” treatment in South Africa.
Dr. Peter Magombeyi, acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, had been receiving care in Harare for a week since his release from captivity. Friends and colleagues suspect he was poisoned during his five-day abduction and now has liver damage.
His father, Kingstone Magombeyi, had been staying with him at the hospital since his release last Thursday.
“I am very happy for that step taken by the medical practitioners, am very happy on that one, because there are some areas whereby l feel he needs further medication,” Kingstone Magombeyi said.
Peter Magombeyi’s departure for South Africa only came after the head of the High Court, George Chiweshe, chastised police who had defied a court order and blocked the doctor from leaving.
Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s Information Minister, maintains police interfered with Magombeyi’s departure for safety and health reasons.
“The police are keen to apprehend the alleged abductors so as to bring them to justice and protect the public,” Mutsvangwa said. “They therefore need the court’s assistance in delaying Dr. Magombeyi’s departure to South Africa, before him giving the vital leads they need to advance their investigations. It is the duty of the police to protect the safety of all its citizens.”
While Magombeyi has left Zimbabwe for medical treatment, his association says doctors are not calling off their three-week strike.
His colleagues say the outspoken doctor was abducted for calling the strike on Sept. 3 to push President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to raise doctors’ salaries, currently equal to less than $200 per month.