Zimbabwe Top Lawyer Disqualified From Representing Detained Journalist

Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna on Tuesday disqualified lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from representing investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who is facing charges of inciting public sentiment against the government.

Chin’ono has been behind bars for the past three weeks with the state denying him bail.

Things took a twist when the State, led by prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi, last week brought a case against the prominent human rights lawyer, Mtetwa, saying she was no longer able to take up the Chin’ono-case following what he said were bad comments made by herself, which he said breached the sub judice principle.

Magistrate Nduna upheld prosecutor Mabhaudhi application “Her statements transgressed the sub judice rule and contempted the court. Practitioners with such blatant character have to be dismissed before the courts.”

Nduna also ordered that the Prosecutor General be approached with view to instituting prosecution on Mtetwa for her “unbecoming” posts on her Facebook page, including “unpalatable” contents carried in a letter she wrote to the court on July 27.

Part of the ruling against Mtetwa also directed that a copy of his judgment be availed to the Law Society of Zimbabwe so that corresponding disciplinary action, if any, be taken against Mtetwa.

However, constitutional law expert and lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the ruling will not survive an urgent review by the High Court.

“The right of an accused person to be represented by a lawyer of choice is one of the most fundamental rights in a democratic society. I believe the court’s decision to bar Beatrice Mtetwa from representing Hopewell will not survive an urgent review by the High Court.” Said Prof Madhuku

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Mtetwa said she will challenge the ruling by Nduna at the High Court.