Mtetwa, Tsvangirai staffers still detained

HARARE - Beatrice Mtetwa and officials from Prime Minister’s Office arrested on Sunday were still in police custody last night, as their lawyers scrambled for their release.

The ill-treatment of Mtetwa has also irked local and foreign lawyer groups, who described it as “alarming”.

Mtetwa was arrested when she went to assist Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s chief legal adviser, Thabani Mpofu, during a police raid at his Harare home, hours after a largely peaceful referendum on a draft constitution.

She was accused of “obstructing or defeating the course of justice”.

They also picked up Warship Dumba, a former Harare city councillor, PM office staffers Felix Matsinde and Annah Muzvidziwa, before taking them all to Rhodesville Police Station in Harare.

Mtetwa’s legal team filed an urgent Chamber Application in the High Court pushing for her release.

Justice Charles Hungwe ordered her release just before midnight on Sunday.

Lawyers served the order for Mtetwa’s release at Rhodesville Police Station at around 0230hrs but the police reportedly refused to comply with the order.

ZLHR yesterday filed another urgent application to have Mtetwa’s continued detention declared to be in contempt of court.

“She is still in custody. They (police) should explain why they are keeping her. We are filing the application tonight (yesterday night),” said Harrison Nkomo, Mtetwa’s lawyer.

Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the other four MDC officials, told the Daily News that he had filed an application seeking the release of the quartet.

Out of the four, Muzvidziwa had not yet been charged by yesterday, while the other three were accused of possessing materials for criminal use.

They were also accused of impersonating a police officer and contravening the Official Secrets Act.

“They are accused of impersonating a police officer after they allegedly compiled dockets in which it is claimed they were investigating Johannes Tomana, Jane Mutasa, Beauty Basile, Charles Muchemwa Nherera, Bright Matonga, Florence Ziyambi, Michael Mugabe and Jonathan Murombedzi,” said Muchadehama.

In a statement, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), Sadc Lawyers Association (Sadc LA) and Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) expressed concern over the arrest and detention.

“The arrest of Mtetwa is in itself alarming. But coming on the heels of a referendum to endorse a new constitution which, whatever its other limitations, contains strong protection of the rights of those arrested and detained, is more distressing.

“Without a clear and unambiguous departure from a past characterised by harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and by impunity for Zimbabwe’s police and security sector, the promise of the new constitution will be laid to waste,” reads part of their statement.

Mtetwa had sought to ensure that the search of Mpofu’s house and subsequently the communications office of the MDC and the arrest of the four complied with legal requirements, demanding that the police produce a search warrant.

Instead, she was arrested and charged with “obstructing the course of justice”. - Tendai Kamhungira

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.