State Seeks To Bar Mtetwa From Representing Chin’ono

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By Costa Nkomo 

PROSECUTOR Whisper Mabhaudhi Thursday filed an application with Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna seeking to bar Beatrice Mtetwa from representing jailed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono accusing the top lawyer of professional misconduct.

The State alleges Mtetwa has been posting Hopewell Chin’ono court case proceedings on; “Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law” Facebook page.

Mabhaudhi told the court Mtetwa acted unprofessionally by posting on the alleged Facebook Page her client court and detention updates.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights executive director, Roselyn Hanzi told journalists at the Harare Magistrate’s Court that Chin’ono’s bail hearing had been set aside as the State filed an application against Mtetwa.

The bail hearing is held in camera following a request from the State the Chin’ono was likely to reveal State security matters relating to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where he is being held.

“We were supposed to have the bail hearing (for Hopewell) in camera but we didn’t proceed. There was an application by the prosecutors where they want to remove the lead counsel (Mtetwa) from the case based on comments that they are saying were posted on a Facebook Page ‘Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law’,” said Hanzi.

“The application is still on going and we will able to know the outcome of that application possibly tomorrow (Friday). Until that application is finalised, the bail hearing will not be proceeding.”

However, Mtetwa said she does not own the Facebook Page established in her name.

“I am not on Facebook. It does not belong to me. It belongs to Laurie Conway who made that documentary,” Mtetwa told journalists later at Harare Magistrate Court Thursday.

Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law is a film documentary by Conway which highlights the importance of the rule of law by focusing on Beatrice Mtetwa legal work in Zimbabwe.

Chin’ono is a co-producer of the documentary was also asked to take the witness stand to explain the origins of the Facebook page.

He told the court the application by the State to remove Mtetwa as lead legal counsel based on the Facebook page, was targeted at denying him the right to access lawyers of his choice.

“It deliberate calculation to deprive the accused (Chin’ono) a lawyer of his choice. It will be quite outrageous to seek to arrest someone on the basis of information which is on Facebook as anyone can do so in solidarity,” Chin’ono told the court.

Chin’ono challenged prosecutors if they are going to track down social media users who have created scores of Facebook pages in his name as a way of showing solidarity.

Magistrate Ngoni Nduna is expected to make a ruling Friday on whether Mtetwa should proceed or removed from Chin’ono’s legal counsel.