ZLHR slams state over Mtetwa appeal

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has condemned the state’s decision to appeal against the discharge of prominent human rights lawyer and ZLHR Board Chairperson Beatrice Mtetwa on spurious charges.


Mtetwa, who was arrested on 17 March 2013 and charged with subverting the course of justice was acquitted by Harare Provincial Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa on 26 November 2013 after a lengthy trial.

The magistrate ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had failed to establish a prima facie case against the award winning human rights lawyer.

But Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana, who heads the NPA on Friday filed an application in the High Court seeking leave to appeal against the freeing of Mtetwa.

In the application, Tozivepi Mapfuwa of the NPA, who is representing Tomana, charged that Mugwagwa erred and misdirected herself in failing to observe that the utterances allegedly made by Mtetwa, where the State claims that she said; “Stop whatever you are doing, it’s unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic. You confused cockroaches as well as that “Murimbwa dzaMugabe”, which the police translated to mean “You are Mugabe’s dogs”, were clearly meant to disturb or hinder police officers in the execution of their duties.

At the time of Mtetwa’s aquittal, ZLHR noted that the discharge vindicated the belief that her arrest, arbitrary detention, and long-drawn-out trial were tools of persecution rather than prosecution.

“The fresh onslaught on Mtetwa confirms our unwavering belief that prosecutorial authorities in Zimbabwe remain grossly unprofessional, partisan, and biased against human rights lawyers and defenders, whose rights they remain intent on violating. This assault against Mtetwa – which is disguised as a prosecution – has a chilling effect on the lawful activities of other lawyers and is yet another proven example of the abuse of criminal prosecution powers by the NPA, and the continued waste of scarce taxpayers’ resources on such malicious prosecutions,” says ZLHR.

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