Drama as police besiege Chin’ono lawyers

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MOSES MATENGA

POLICE in full riot gear yesterday besieged the offices of human rights lawyer and activist Beatrice Mtetwa in Harare twice in a show of force, in what observers said was meant to intimidate the lawyers fighting the case of incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

When NewsDay went to the offices early in the morning, the police officers, in a packed truck, were singing as they left the place.
They returned in the afternoon and repeated the singing and left.

“When they came in the morning, they parked outside the gate and started singing,” one of the workers at the premises who refused to be named said.

“They told some of our staff outside that they were doing their work. A handful of them jumped out of the vehicle as if they wanted to come in before they left.”

When one of the employees enquired what they wanted as they were disturbing their work, the singing police replied that “they too were also doing their work”.

“They came back later (in the afternoon) and drove around without saying anything, briefly stopping at the gate and looking around, again acting as if they wanted to get inside.”
Police national spokesperson

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the police visit to Mtetwa’s office.

“I am not aware, let me check,” he said.

While the police were patrolling at her offices, prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi was seeking to stop the human rights lawyer from representing Chin’ono, alleging that she had been making comments on the Facebook page titled Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law.

However, Mtetwa denied having a social media account, saying the said Facebook page in question was run by a Boston-based film maker, Lorie Conway.

She accused the prosecutor of misleading the court.

Mtetwa accused Mabhaudhi of rushing to file an application without confirming the authenticity of the page and information as a ploy to deny Chin’ono the right to be represented by the legal practitioner of his choice.

The page has been active of late, with updates on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and the on-going case of Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who were both arrested and charged for inciting violence on July 20.

Chin’ono was put on the witness stand to provide evidence on the part he played in the Mtetwa documentary.

The investigative journalist said he was a filmmaker and he played part in the production of the documentary. He said he was the co-producer of the documentary and he also explained the origin of the Facebook page which focuses on the life of Mtetwa as a lawyer.

Mabhaudhi is expected to cross-examine Chin’ono today on his application to have Mtetwa censured by the court.

Chin’ono is yet to testify in court on the prison conditions he was subjected to.

The investigative journalist was arrested after exposing corruption by senior government officials in a US$60 million Drax International tender scandal.

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