By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
05 May 2014
The outspoken human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, may soon be defending herself again in a case that was already dismissed by the High Court last year, after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appealed against her acquittal on charges of “defeating or obstructing the course of justice”.
Mtetwa was accused of violating the Criminal Codification Act after she allegedly interfered with police officers who were attempting to conduct a search at the home of one of MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai’s aides, as well as his offices in Harare in March, 2013.
The police claimed Mtetwa told the police officers to stop whatever they were doing as it was “unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic”. They also claimed she used the words “You confused cockroaches” and “Murimbwa dzaMugabe”, meaning: “You are Mugabe’s dogs.”
But the award-winning lawyer was acquitted by Harare provincial magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa in November, after the State closed their case, with Mugwagwa ruling that the NPA had failed to establish a case against her.
However the NPA, headed by prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana, on Friday filed an appeal at the High Court arguing that the magistrate Mugwagwa had “erred and misdirected herself” when she dismissed the case, ignoring evidence which established a “prima facie case” against Mtetwa.
Represented by Tozivepi Mapfuwa, Tomana argues that the magistrate failed to observe that Mtetwa’s “utterances” were meant to disturb or hinder police officers from executing their duties.
Tomana also claims that that the three police officers who testified for the state all corroborated each other’s statements, claiming that Mtetwa had closed the gate at the residence that was being searched in Westgate suburb, attempting to prevent the officers from leaving with some exhibits they had reportedly recovered.
It is widely believed that Tomana is prosecuting Mtetwa in an attempt to silence the outspoken human rights lawyer, who is also the board chairperson at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.