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
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
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
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.