Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa believes that the government is persecuting her after Magistrate Ngoni Nduna removed her from representing incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
Nduna recused Mtetwa from Chin’ono’s case after State prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi last week made an application seeking for her removal from representing the journalist, saying she was posting comments critical of the Judiciary on the Facebook page, Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law.
Speaking to reporters at Rotten Row Magistrate Court in Harare this Tuesday, Mtetwa, who claimed that she was not on Facebook and had no social media accounts, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threat to deal with lawyers had come to pass. Said Mtetwa:
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I think all of you heard at the beginning of the year we will deal with the lawyers and doctors, they started dealing with the lawyers.
For me, doing what they are doing, obviously, it has a chilling effect on other lawyers particularly the younger lawyers. The idea is to say to human right defenders, you defend a certain type of, we will be after you. It is not a coincidence that there is an order that says I must be prosecuted.
When that order is coming from the court that is carrying the case, there will be chilling effects that young lawyers will be prosecuted for doing their work. If you’re young and you’re 30, you cannot afford to be prosecuted.
I’m over 60, I can be prosecuted towards the end of my career. The intention is to stop us from defending a certain type of client.
We are going to challenge the decision because we don’t agree with it in a whole lot of respect but it means the right to legal representation has been severely curtailed by the courts which are actually supposed to be expanding that right.