By Violet Gonda
22 March 2013
High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa on Friday postponed Beatrice Mtetwa’s bail hearing to Monday, in a development that risks creating a logistical nightmare for her, as the lead counsel in the murder trial of the Glen View 29, which reopens also on Monday.
The human rights lawyer was on Wednesday denied bail by Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa and remanded in custody to April 3rd, resulting in her legal team filing an urgent application in the High Court for her release.
Justice Musakwa said the postponement is to give the State time to file responses to Mtetwa’s bail application, after the State indicated the transcript of the record of proceedings was brought to the High Court late.
But Mtetwa’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told SW Radio Africa the State is not treating this matter with the seriousness and urgency it requires as this deals with the issue of individual liberties.
Nkomo said Mtetwa has indicated that she is ready to argue the matter for her Glen View clients, some of whom have been in remand prison for almost two years.
He said: “I saw her, she was in high spirits. It’s a matter of working out the logistics – bring her court regalia, she changes from her prison garb into the court regalia and she gets into court and argues the matter. Once that is done she goes back into her prison garb and back to Chikurubi prison.
“I know of no law that bars her from coming to court to represent the accused persons. Remember these accused persons chose her as their lawyer of choice and I think people should respect their rights.”
Nkomo said there are several options regarding the pending trail of the MDC-T activists from Glen View, who are accused of murdering a police officer in 2011. He said Mtetwa’s defence team could make an application for the matter to be postponed on the grounds that she cannot appear in court because she is incarcerated.
Mtwetwa’s other clients, four staffers from the Prime Ministers’ office, have also been in custody since Sunday. The MDC-T officials are being held at Harare Remand Prison and are being accused of impersonating police officers with the aim of gathering sensitive information about senior government and State officials.
One of the two caretakers from the PM’s offices, who was arrested and released on Thursday, was also rearrested Friday, facing the same charges.
Mtetwa is charged with obstruction of justice with police claiming that she “insulted” officers during their search of the premises of the staffers from the Prime Minister’s office on Sunday. She is being held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Some human rights activists staged a lunch time picket at the Rotten Row Magistrates Court on Friday, demanding the release of Mtetwa.
In Kwekwe, activist and Director of the Zimbabwe Organization for Youth in Politics, Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo, is said to have walked into Kwekwe police station and demanded to be arrested in solidarity with Mtetwa. The police refused.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists has issued a strongly worded message to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, expressing concern about Mtetwa’s arrest and her subsequent detention by police in defiance of an initial order issued by High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe.
“We believe this invalidates the criminal proceedings instituted against her on Wednesday and constitutes an affront to the constitution and legal system of your country,” the CPJ said in the statement.
Mtetwa is a former president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and her contributions to the promotion of justice in the country include the defense of journalists. Mtetwa is the only non-journalist to be honored with CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award.