HARARE - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has launched a fresh onslaught against feisty human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa by appealing against her acquittal on charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Mtetwa, who was arrested in March last year and charged with contravening Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly interfering with a search conducted by the police at the residence of one of former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s aides and at the former Premier’s offices in Harare, was acquitted by Harare provincial magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa in November at the close of the State case.
In setting free Mtetwa, Mugwagwa ruled that the NPA had failed to establish a prima facie case against the award-winning and prominent human rights lawyer.
But prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana, who heads the NPA, on Friday filed an application in the High Court seeking leave to appeal against the discharge of Mtetwa, who is the board chairperson of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
In the application, Tozivepi Mapfuwa of the NPA, who is representing Tomana, argued that Mugwagwa erred and misdirected herself when she granted the application for discharge filed by Mtetwa at the close of the State case in November as the State had adduced evidence which established a prima facie case against the human rights lawyer of hindering or disturbing police officers in the execution of their duties.
Mapfuwa charged that Mugwagwa erred and misdirected herself in failing to observe that the utterances allegedly made by Mtetwa were meant to disturb or hinder police officers in the execution of their duties.
The State claims Mtetwa said to the arresting officers: “Stop whatever you are doing, it’s unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic. You confused cockroaches.” It also alleges that she further said: “Murimbwa dzaMugabe”, which the police translated to mean “You are Mugabe’s dogs.”
Tomana’s representative also claimed that Mugwagwa had erred and misdirected herself by failing to observe that the evidence of the first three state witnesses, who testified during the trial namely Luckson Mukazhi, Wilfred Chibage and Ngatirwe Mamiza, who are all police officers, materially corroborated each other on the aspect that the ZLHR board chairperson allegedly closed the gate at a residence in Westgate suburb in a bid to prevent Chibage from leaving the premises with some exhibits which he had reportedly recovered.
Mapfuwa argued that there are prospects of success on appeal.
At the time of the acquittal, ZLHR criticised the NPA for persecuting the human rights lawyer who has defended several journalists and other human rights defenders targeted by the State.