BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
HIGH Court judge Justice Happias Zhou yesterday set aside magistrate Ngoni Nduna’s ruling which barred human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa (pictured) from representing journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and ordered the magistrate to recuse himself from the case.
Mtetwa was Chin’ono’s lawyer in a matter in which he is being accused of inciting public violence before the abortive July 31 demonstrations.
Justice Zhou also ruled that Nduna should recuse himself from Chin’ono’s criminal case and ordered that a new magistrate should take over the proceedings.
Chin’ono and Mtetwa challenged Nduna’s ruling that Mtetwa had scandalised the courts and undermined public confidence in the courts when she allegedly posted a message on her alleged Facebook page @Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law, claiming that Chin’ono was abducted.
He said the picture of Chin’ono being abducted on that social media page had a negative portrayal of the justice system and ultimately a misrepresentation of abuse of human rights to the outside world. Nduna then barred her from representing Chin’ono on the basis that she had acted unlawfully by posting on social media, with regards to a case which was before the courts.
Mtetwa however denied ownership of the Facebook page, saying it was administered in the United States by one Lorie Conway to market her professional work.
In the application to challenge Nduna’s ruling at the High Court, Taona Nyamakura, who was representing Mtetwa and Chin’ono said the magistrate’s order violated Chin’ono’s constitutional right to have a lawyer of his own choice.
The State, led by prosecutor Sharon Fero opposed Chin’ono and Mtetwa’s application arguing that it did not meet all the eight grounds required for review.
But Justice Zhou stated that there were sufficient grounds for Mtetwa and Chin’ono to support the basis of their application for review of Nduna’s ruling.
Chin’ono is also on bail on another matter before the courts where he is facing charges of obstructing the course of justice.
Meanwhile, in another case, High Court judge justice Edith Mushore temporarily released Chin’ono’s passport for 21 days so that he seeks medical attention in South Africa.
Justice Mushore also suspended the journalist’s reporting conditions in the interim.
In her ruling, the judge however restricted Chin’ono’s travel to Gauteng Province only, where he stated in his application for relaxation of his bail conditions that he wanted to go.