High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, last night ordered the “immediate release” of arrested human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, but the police declined to set her free.
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Mtetwa was arrested Sunday morning after asking the police to produce a search warrant when they raided the home of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s director of research Thabani Mpofu in Borrowdale, Harare. The police accused Mtetwa of obstructing the course of justice.
The police also raided Tsvangirai’s private communications offices in Avondale and later arrested Mpofu, Warship Dumba, Felix Manditse and Anna Muzvidziwa – all employees at the premier’s private offices.
They were accused of impersonating the police and of running an illegal non-governmental organisation.
Mtetwa’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told NewsDay this morning that he filed an urgent application with the High Court last night seeking the release of the human rights lawyer.
Justice Hungwe, Nkomo said, ordered the immediate release of Mtetwa from police custody at Rhodesville Police Station.
“When we tendered Justice Hungwe’s order at the police station around 2am (today), the officer manning the station declined to release Mtetwa,” Nkomo said. “The officer said he was too junior to release her and referred us to the Law and Order Department. She is still in police custody.”
Nkomo said he would be approaching the Law and Order Department at Harare Central Police Station this morning to seek Mtetwa’s release.
“The court order has to be adhered too. Mtetwa has no case to answer and must be released,” the lawyer added.
MDC staffers are in police custody and expected to appear in court later today.
Impeccable sources told NewsDay Sunday that the police raided Mpofu’ s home and rummaged through it before confiscating laptops and cellphones, among others.
During the search, the sources said, Tsvangirai’s chief advisor Alex Magaisa alerted Mtetwa who was then taken to Mpofu’s home to represent him.
Mtetwa, the sources said, demanded a search warrant from the police who failed to produce it. She also demanded to see an inventory of the property the police had confiscated. Again the police could not produce the inventory.
One of the police officers, the sources said, then accused Mtetwa of recording and shooting pictures of her conversation with the members of the uniformed forces using her cellphone.
The sources said the officer leading the search, identified only as Mukwazhi, demanded the phone from Mtetwa who had placed it in her bag. A scuffle ensued, the sources added, resulting in the police wrestling the bag from Mtetwa.
Mukwazhi, the sources said, then charged Mtetwa of obstructing the course of justice.
She was then thrown at the back of a police van and taken to Tsvangirai’s private communications and information offices in Bath Road, Avondale. Mpofu was also taken to the offices in a separate vehicle.
Mtetwa was later taken to Harare Central Police Station where she was formally charged with obstructing the course of justice.
The sources said Mtetwa accused Mukwazhi of obstructing her from representing her client. She is still in police custody.