I was horrified to read that Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna has barred lawyer Mtetwa from constitutionally representing her client – incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
Nduna sentenced her for “scandalizing the court” and posting a message on Facebook that Chin’ono was abducted. I thought that the law was that you were presumed innocent until proven guilty!
He said in his ruling that the picture of Chin’ono being abducted portrayed the justice system as being biased and has ignited the outraged world over at abuse of human rights. He goes on to say the Lawyers for Human Rights were the first to raise the alarm “styling it as an abduction”. This certainly sounds like he is belittling the claim that there was an abduction.
Meanwhile, he blocked Chin’ono from revealing evidence of ongoing torture whilst in remand. In barring Mtetwa he also successfully stopped Chin’ono from exercising his human rights by having his bail application heard, further prolonging his incarceration in the hands of his torturers. He blindly accepts that the State’s allegation that Mtetwa is the author and owner of the Facebook page in the face of her denial and without any concrete evidence. Anyway, where is the crime in posting that a person has been abducted and tortured? If it is not true there are civil remedies, but we all know it is all so true. Unless Nduna is as much in denial as ZANU PF, blind or in their camp, he must be suspicious that Chin’ono was indeed abducted. To deny that ruling party agents resort to abductions and torture is showing a strong bias against The Rule of Law and human rights, and certainly not befitting a magistrate.
Ndunu is right that the world’s eyes are on Zimbabwe for human rights abuses and the courts are scandalized. But this is not the doing of Mtetwa or anybody else trying to raise the world’s attention to the excesses of the regime and its agents. It is the regime and its agents, like the courts, who by their perpetuation of human rights abuses invite the anger and disgust of the world upon their shoulders.
Could the State and the courts be using the Coronavirus pandemic to kill off any dissenters by having them denied bail and incarcerated in conditions where they can only in time succumb to the virus and die, as they will obviously also be denied medical attention? It certainly seems like it when the courts and prosecutors are so ready to deny bail when they must surely know that they are going for the jugular – certain death. That is why we are having so many hiding in the hills as fugitives from justice. They are not avoiding justice, simply they are trying to stay out of the clutches of an inhumane system and away from catching the dreaded Coronavirus.
I vividly recall one of the first violators of the lockdown restrictions being denied bail for pushing a cart! I am sure he would have died by now of Covid, and his young family of starvation.
Ndunu, there is no human heart in our courts as you have amply shown.