Zimbabwe: Mtetwa Banned From Representing Chin'ono Over Facebook Page

Hopewell Chin'ono arrives at the Harare Magistrates' Court on Wednesday July 22, 2020 (file photo).

Beatrice Mtetwa has been permanently barred from representing Hopewell Chin'ono after a Harare court found the top rights lawyer to have abandoned professional conduct but developed personal interest in the journalist's case.

Chin'ono stands accused of inviting the public to commit public violence.

Magistrate Ngoni Nduna Tuesday ruled Mtetwa could no longer continue representing Chin'ono after displaying unprofessional conduct.

Mtetwa is accused of writing a letter to the High Court registrar expressing her emotions on the case and also authoring Facebook posts to do with Chin'ono's case.

Nduna also wants the lawyer held in contempt of court by the Prosecutor General with his full judgment also availed to the law Society of Zimbabwe so it could investigate her conduct.

In his lengthy ruling Tuesday, Nduna ruled Mtetwa scandalised the courts by portraying Chin'ono's arrest as an abduction by state security.

He said the arrest was unnecessarily portrayed as an abduction and was posted to the whole world by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in a bid to spark world outrage.

The state, led by Whisper Mabhaudhi, had applied for Mtetwa's recusal over the alleged unprofessional conduct.

"The picture portrayed (in the post by ZLHR) a biased justice system and the world was invited to an outrage over abuse of human rights," he said.

He said a Facebook Post on a page - Beatrice Mtetwa@The Rule of Law - scandalised and undermined public confidence in the courts.

The state submitted that the posts showed that Mtetwa was the author and owner of the Facebook page.

He said the coming of the page carrying her name into existence and the publication of the posts showed she authorised it.

"She can't put all the blame on Lorrie Cornway (the Facebook page admin) and wash her hands as Ponthias Pilato in the Bible," he said, after the lawyer had dismissed claims she was behind the Facebook page.

The state had also argued the letters written by Mtetwa to the courts also showed her desperation and her direct interests in the case.

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