Lawyers boycott court

Zimbabwean lawyers last week boycotted court in protest against the recent attacks on members of the legal profession and the escalating breakdown in the rule of law.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second capital, placard-waving lawyers led a procession from the regional High Court to Mhla

hlandlela Governnment Complex where they wanted to hand a petition to Governor Cain Mathema. Spirited efforts by the security agents to foil the march were fruitless as determined lawyers regrouped each time baton-wielding riot police dispersed the lawyers.
“Approximately 15 of us then commenced our march to the Governor’s office but
soon after starting to march we came under the close attention of Police vehicles including at least one Landrover from the Law and Order department of CID,” said Bulawayo lawyer David Coltart. “These vehicles trailed us as we walked the three blocks to the Governor’s office. On approaching the Governor’s office we noticed another detachment of riot police stationed outside the gate.”
In Harare, the Magistrate Court literally ground to halt although High Court registrar Charles Nyatanga reportedly declined to adjourn business of the day.
The march was conducted in the full knowledge that not a single police officer has been prosecuted for all the offences they have committed over the last seven years.
During the last seven years, numerous unlawful assaults have been perpetrated by policemen against law abiding Zimbabweans exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully.
Organisers said the march was also conducted in the knowledge that police officers responsible for the vicious attack on Law Society President Beatrice Mtetwa a few weeks ago have not been arrested or prosecuted, nor will they be.
In Bulawayo, Coltart said, police officers manning the Mhlahlandlela government complex declined to accept a petition for the governor.
“We left the petition at the feet of the officer as it was clear that we were not going to be let through the police barricade,” said Coltart. “Although they were brandishing batons and undoubtedly could have inflicted great harm on us, when I looked into their eyes I saw no enthusiasm for what they had been ordered to do. In fact if I came away
with any emotion it was one of pity. The officer in charge was hesitant in
giving his orders and almost apologetic.”

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