High Court Judge Justice Happias Zhou will on Tuesday 15 December 2020 preside over the hearing and determination of an application filed by human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa together with freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono seeking an order to set aside a ruling by Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna disqualifying her from representing the media practitioner.
Justice Zhou will hear the application at 10: AM.
On 17 August 2020, Magistrate Nduna attracted global outrage after he disqualified Mtetwa from representing Chin’ono and accepted a request by prosecutors to bar the feisty human rights lawyer from the case on allegations that she was undermining the court by posting material on Facebook. This was despite Mtetwa telling the court that she had no control over the Facebook page, which is run by an American filmmaker. Magistrate Nduna went on to recommend that the Law Society of Zimbabwe takes disciplinary measures against Mtetwa.
In the application for review of Magistrate Nduna’s decision filed in September, Mtetwa and Chin’ono argued that the Magistrate’s ruling is unconstitutional and effectively deprives the freelance journalist of his right to legal representation of his choice.
The ruling, Mtetwa and Chin’ono argued, is “unprecedented in our constitutional order”.
Chin’ono and Mtetwa are represented by Doug Coltart, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Mtetwa and Chin’ono argued that Magistrate Nduna’s ruling has the effect of depriving Chin’ono of his chosen counsel.
The human rights lawyer also contended that the Constitution guarantees her the right to practice her profession without undue interference.
Chin’ono and Mtetwa want Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi of the National Prosecuting Authority, who represented the state in the case before Magistrate Nduna, to be barred from prosecuting the freelance journalist.
Mtetwa has over the years suffered repeated harassment, including assault detention in police and prison cells, for her relentless pursuit of human rights and justice.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)