By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
High Court Judge Justice Happias Zhou has ruled that Harare Regional magistrate Ngoni Nduna had no power to remove Beatrice Mtetwa as Hopewell Chin’ono’s lawyer and recused the magistrate from presiding over the award winning investigative journalist’s case.
Nduna had banned Mtetwa from representing then incarcerated Chin’ono who is charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
The magistrate had accused Mtetwa of posting comments that prejudice the course of justice on the Facebook page, Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law.
This was despite Mtetwa telling the court that she had no control over the Facebook page, which she said was being run by an American filmmaker.
Magistrate Nduna went on to recommend that the Law Society of Zimbabwe takes disciplinary measures against Mtetwa.
Mtetwa through her lawyer, Taona Nyamakura of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) challenged Nduna’s ruling at the lower court but her application was dismissed.
Mtetwa approached the High Court seeking Nduna’s recusal and the setting aside of his ruling.
On Tuesday, Justice Zhou dismissed the State’s opposition arguing that there were sufficient grounds of review to support Mtetwa and Chin’ono’s application for review of Magistrate Nduna’s decision barring the human rights lawyer from representing the media practitioner.
An update from the ZLHR on Twitter said; “Justice Zhou sets aside Magistrate Nduna’s disqualification of Beatrice Mtetwa & instead disqualifies Magistrate Nduna from presiding over Chino’no’s criminal trial & orders that a new Magistrate presides over.
“Advocate Taona Nyamakura representing Mtetwa and Chin’ono tells Justice Zhou that there is need for professionalism and respect of rights of accused persons and says the filing of State’s application in Magistrate court which led to the barring of Mtetwa was malicious,” the ZLHR said.
Chin’ono was arrested on July 20 and charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption in government and spent 45 days at the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released by the High Court.
The investigative journalist played a crucial role in exposing alleged corruption by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, the US $60 million Dax Covidgate scandal that saw the arrest and dismissal of former Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
He was arrested along with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala who have since been released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
In what many described as sustained victimisation, Chin’ono was arrested a second time for allegedly violating his bail conditions after tweeting that members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had told him that gold smuggler Henrietta Rushwaya was going to be granted bail.
Rushwaya, Mnangagwa’s relative and former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) boss was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport after she was caught attempting to smuggle 6.09kgs of gold to Dubai worth over USD$300 000. Nehanda Radio