Police refuse to comply with High Court order to release Beatrice Mtetwa
By Violet Gonda
Zimbabwe police arrested prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa on
Sunday for allegedly obstructing the course of justice but they too are
defying a High Court order demanding her immediate release.
Mtetwa’s legal team filed an urgent High Court application and Justice
Charles Hungwe ordered her immediate release. Rhodesville Police were issued
with the order but refused to comply with the order.
The rights lawyer was arrested when she went to represent four MDC-T
officials who were arrested a day after the nation voted in a referendum on
a new constitution that calls for more protection against human rights
An administrator in the Premier’s office, Anna Muzvidziwa, was arrested
along with her one year-old son, but was later released. However Tsvangirai’s
chief legal adviser Thabani Mpofu and Felix Matsinde, Mehluli Tshuma and
Warship Dumba are still in custody.
One of their lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR),
Dzimbabwe Chimbga, said they are accused of impersonating police. He said
although the full nature of the charges are still not clear the detainees
are being accused of having tried to gather some information to implicate
senior government officials. Mtetwa is being charged with “obstructing or
defeating the course of justice.”
Mtetwa, who has since Sunday been tossed around from one police station to
another in Harare, was arrested when she tried to render legal assistance to
Mpofu, whose home had been raided without a search warrant on Sunday
ZLHR have filed a High Court Application seeking the release of the MDC-T
The rights group also issued a statement saying: “For every Beatrice Mtetwa
that these state agents and institutions put behind bars and attempts to
embarrass, humiliate and punish without lawful cause, there are 10 other
human rights lawyers waiting to take up the mantle.”
Meanwhile the Law Society of SA (LSSA) condemned the arrest of the human
rights lawyer saying lawyers must be able to carry out their duties without
fear of arrest or harassment, and called on the Zimbabwean authorities to
release her “as a matter of urgency.”
“The steps that the Zimbabwean government is taking to advance its stature
in the world will be compromised by actions which undermine the rule of law
further,” the LSSA said in a statement on Monday.
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