DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MOSES MATENGA
POLICE in full riot gear yesterday besieged the offices of noted human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa in Harare twice in a show of force, in what observers said was meant to intimidate attorneys fighting the case of incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
When the Alpha Media Holdings team visited the offices early in the morning, the police officers, packed in a truck, were singing as they left the place. They returned again 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 workers inquired what they wanted, since 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,” the worker said.
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 filmmaker, 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 ongoing case of Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who were both arrested on July 20 and charged for inciting violence. Chin’ono was put on the witness stand to provide evidence on the part he played on the Mtetwa documentary.
The journalist said he was a filmmaker and he played a 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 focusses 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, whose Zimbabwean frontman Delish Nguwaya is friends with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sons Collins and Sean.
Former Health minister Obadiah Moyo was arrested in connection with the case.