By Staff Reporter.
HARARE – High Court Judge Justice Happias Zhou has set aside Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna’s ruling in which he disqualified human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from representing Hopewell Chin’ono.
Justice Zhou instead disqualified Nduna from presiding over Chin’ono’s case.
Magistrate Nduna had on 17 August 2020 attracted global outrage after he disqualified Beatrice 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.
The judgment comes after the determination of an application filed by human rights lawyer Mtetwa together with freelance journalist, Chin’ono seeking an order to set aside a ruling by Nduna disqualifying her from representing the media practitioner.
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 was unconstitutional and effectively deprives the freelance journalist of his right to legal representation of his choice.
Chin’ono and Mtetwa were represented by Douglas Coltart of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The human rights lawyer contended that the Constitution guarantees her the right to practice her profession without undue interference.
In the application, Chin’ono and Mtetwa wanted 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.
Meanwhile, 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.