The long awaited trial of suspected serial killer and rapist, Bright Zhantali failed to commence at the Harare High Court Monday after the state raised concerns over his mental stability.
Zhantali is accused of raping and killing over 20 women in different parts of the country between last year and this year.
Court is expected to hear the case involving his first victim, Nester Chikwengo, who was a fish vendor at Whitehouse in Kuwadzana Extension, Harare.
The State, represented by Prosecutor Terence Mukuze, asked High Court judge Rodgers Matsikidze to proceed in terms of the Mental Health Act.
“I am aware that a medical report has since been furnished that asserts that the accused (Zhantali) is fit to understand the charges against him. He was also in his sober senses when he committed the offence.
“We wish to proceed with section 28 of the Mental Health Act and we request that the accused be sent to a mental institution until a mental health tribunal decides on his state.”
The state also asked if Zhantali could be put on psychiatric hold since he was a danger to the public.
“Besides the current charge, the accused has nine other charges of the same nature he is facing which are already ready for trial and faces a total of 24 charges of murder. So, certainly there is no doubt that he is a danger to society.”
Zhantali’s attorney, Raymond Kadani concurred with the State, noting that the court should grant a special verdict.
“There are two critical findings made by the doctors; the accused appears to be mentally disordered or intellectually disabled and that the accused is failing to appreciate the nature of the court proceedings.
“I do confirm the findings made by the state and agree that it would be prudent that the court acts according to the Mental Health Act. I ask that the court grant a special verdict under the circumstances.”
Hearing in the matter continues this Tuesday.