The State says the Lusaka High Court cannot order the admission of Lusaka lawyer Namwene Phiri to a psychiatric hospital as she is not facing any criminal charges.
Chali Mbewe-Hambayi, a State advocate at the National Prosecutions Authority, says the court can only make such an order where there are criminal proceedings against an accused person suffering from mental illness.
“The provisions on admission do not bestow powers on the court to give an order to admit Namwene,” she said.
This is in a matter where Namwene’s sister Esther Phiri Ng’ambi wants the Lusaka High Court to order that her suicidal sister be maintained at a psychiatric hospital until her mental faculty is fully examined.
The applicant cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter.
Namwene, an in-house counsel at Food Reserve Agency on February 15, 2022 caused the death of her son by administering a pesticide (doom) to him and later consumed the same in an attempt to commit suicide.
However, Ng’ambi is seeking confirmation from the court as her sibling’s helper within the confines of the law during Namwene’s treatment as an inpatient at Chainama Hills College Hospital.
She is seeking an interim order that Namwene be forthwith admitted to the care and supervision of the Chainama Hills College Hospital to protect her from inflicting serious harm to herself pending further order of the court.
Ng’ambi also wants an order of appointment as the patient’s supporter within the meaning of the law until further order of the court to represent Namwene’s rights and interest.
According to an affidavit in support of originating summons, Ng’ambi said her sister was confined to her ward and was being manned by a police officer who was watching her movements at all times, and that as a result she has limited access to third parties other than medical staff and her legal representatives.
“There is a continued risk of the victim further attempting to harm herself if her mental faculty is not examined and assessed fully,” said Ng’ambi.
But in an affidavit in opposition to summons for an interim order of appointment of supporter and interim order for admission to a mental health facility, Hambayi said Ng’ambi had not produced any documentation that related to the state of Namwene or the nature of the mental illness that had resulted in the absence of the patient’s legal capacity.
“In the absence of the document, the court cannot appoint Ng’ambi as a supporter. The patient (Namwene) is currently admitted at Chainama Hills College Hospital and the application to admit her (to the psychiatric hospital) is not necessary,” said Hambayi.
Credit: The Mast