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Top Lawyer Seeking Order to Overturn Decision to Block Her from Representing Zimbabwe Journalist Chin'ono

FILE: Beatrice Mtetwa, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers of Human Rights, talks to reporters outside the Harare Magistrates Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 18, 2020. Mtetwa said she did nothing wrong in her quest to secure bail for journalist Chin’ono.

High Court Judge Justice Happias Zhou will on Tuesday 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.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, 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.”

Mtetwa told the court that she had no control over the Facebook page, which is run by an American filmmaker.

Nduna also recommend that the Law Society of Zimbabwe should 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 the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Mtetwa and Chin’ono further argued that 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 state prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi of the National Prosecuting Authority, who represented the state in the case before Nduna, to be barred from prosecuting the freelance journalist.

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