By Violet Gonda
19 March 2013
Prominent defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was denied bail by a Harare magistrate on Tuesday, following her arrest on Sunday.
Mtetwa made her first court appearance after police ignored a High Court order early Monday ordering her release.
Defence lawyer Dzimbabwe Chimbga said: “Initially we had put before the magistrate the issue of the unlawful detention and the order which we got from the High Court, which said she should be released immediately, but the magistrate said we must proceed to apply for bail because that issue of the High Court relates to the police, not her.
“So we applied for bail and surprisingly the state said it was not ready to respond and they applied for that matter to be rolled over to tomorrow.”
Scores of people, mainly from civil society and the legal fraternity, went to the magistrates’ court to express their solidarity with Mtetwa, a fearless human rights advocate.
The crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said there was no sitting or standing room in the courtroom due to the large numbers of people who attended.
Over the years Beatrice has represented many human rights and political activists and on Sunday she was arrested and charged with obstructing the course of justice for attending to her client, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s chief legal adviser, Thabani Mpofu.
Police had raided Mpofu’s home around 6am on Sunday, allegedly searching for ‘subversive material’. The MDC official and three others are being accused of ‘impersonating’ police officers.
The police accuse Mtetwa of insulting and shouting at officers during the arrest of her clients, but Chimbga said the police insist that the obstruction of justice emanated from the fact that she “vigorously tried to assert the rights of her clients by demanding that a search warrant be shown to them.”
He added: “Obviously from our view that is a constitutional right of a lawyer, and in our view the charges are frivolous and vexatious and nothing has changed today because the police have not put before the courts any more evidence to sustain their charge.”
There are suggestions that the police are after Mpofu and his three co-accused because they were compiling a dossier that would reveal massive corruption by some senior government officials.
The lawyer said the case of Mpofu and others has also been rolled over to Wednesday.
Chimbga said: “Again the State stated it was not ready to respond.”