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Mtetwa, Prime Minister's Employees Denied Bail

 

THE Magistrates Court in Harare Wednesday March 20, 2013 ruled against the bail applications for award-winning human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa and the four employees of the Prime Minister(PM) Morgan Tsvangirai's Office who were arrested Sunday remanding them to April 3.

 

Sekai Holland, the Minister of State for National Healing Reconciliation and Integration in the PM's office and the 2012 Sydney Peace Prize winner showed up in solidarity.

 

Civil society leaders, human rights lawyers and the plainclothes police competed for space in Court Room 6, while heavily armed riot police stood guard at the entrance until the ruling was passed around 3pm.

 

Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa  told the packed court that Mtetwa was facing serious charges of obstructing the course of justice, after the experienced lawyer reportedly chided the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details who searched her client's house without a search warrant.

 

"Stop whatever you are doing, it is unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic, € is what Mtetwa is accused of having said as defiant police ransacked the PM's legal advisor, Thabani Mpofu's house. Prosecutor Michael Mugabe further charged that the commotion that ensued because of Mtetwa's words to the police led to the disappearance of three laptops.

 

Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who shares an identical name with the incarcerated PM's Advisor, represented Mtetwa in court, breathing fire and brimstone at the State's submissions against bail. Mpofu argued that Mtetwa had business interests, 31 years as a lawyer without breaking the law and could not run away from "nothing € as there was no case against her.

 

The lower court was reminded that Mtetwa had a four day old High Court order for her immediate release issued   to the police a few hours after her arrest, which was being disregarded.

 

Gofa ruled around 3 pm that Mtetwa was a flight risk and said the state's arguments were "vehemently € put across. The same Magistrate remanded Mtetwa's clients, now being represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) defense team led by Alec Muchadehama to the same date in custody.

 

Those employees of the PM's Office apart from the Legal Advisor, are Felix Matsinde and Annah Muzvidziwa and they are being charged together with a former MDC-T Hararare City councillor Warship Dumba. The State represented by Michael Reza alleged the employees were found with dockets.

 

In another case, the PM's Legal Advisor was remanded to March 27, for possession of an unlicensed firearm, though the defense counsel indicated that Mpofu had been in prior contact with the police indicating that he wanted them to repossess the weapon. Mpofu was reportedly given the firearm while he was a public prosecutor.

 

The court cases arose after the police raided the Prime Minister's Office one day after the landmark referendum on the new constitution. The police blitz reportedly prompted President Robert Mugabe's main rival and MDC-T leader Tsvangirai to seek audience with the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Tomaz Salomao who was in the country for the referendum.

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