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I feared Mukoko’s ordeal – Mtetwa
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
September 27, 2013

Award winning Human Rights Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has revealed that she feared being victimized by state security agents in a manner reminiscent of the callous treatment that fellow human rights defender Jestina Mukoko, who was abducted in December 2008, was subjected to.

Mtetwa’s made these startling revelations during her trial, which is ongoing at the Harare Magistrates Court on Thursday, September 29, 2013.

Mtetwa, who is the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Board Chairperson, was arrested on March 17, 2013, in the course of duty on allegations of obstructing the course of justice after she adamantly demanded a search warrant from police details that searched the house of her client Thabani Mpofu.

Mtetwa, with the assistance of Harrison Nkomo, was cross-examining from the dock one of the witnesses and a policewoman named Taisekwa Tembo who testified that after being arrested Mtetwa had made utterances to the effect that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) violated the rights of Zimbabwean citizens.

Mtetwa did not dispute the utterances in court, and confirmed her trepidation in police custody.

Mtetwa said her discomfort was justified by the fact that Chief Superintendent Luxmore Mukazhi, who was part of the group that arrested her, had previously been involved in the ill-treatment of Mukoko, which the Constitutional Court later ruled was a gross violation of human rights.

“You are aware that Jestina Mukoko was tortured by those who had her in custody,” Mtetwa said. “And the accused (referring to herself) would have feared that whatever happened to Jestina (Mukoko) could have happened to her since she was in the hands of the very same people who tortured her (referring to Jestina).”

Tembo replied that Mtetwa’s misgivings about her treatment in the hands of the police once in custody could have led her into thinking that her arrest was driven by “malice”, leading her into acting strangely like “a drama queen”.

Mtetwa insisted that “there were similarities” between her arrest and that of Mukoko.

“Ms Tembo, Jestina was arrested for the work that she does,” Mtetwa said. “And accused was arrested for the work she was doing as a legal practitioner called to a client’s house where he was being arrested.

“Clearly, there are similarities there.”

Tembo told the court about the utterances, which she said were among other utterances that had been made by Mtetwa in their custody during cross-examination by prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare. Mtetwa said she had been compelled to respond to the evidence adduced by Tembo in relation to the Mukoko utterances during her own cross-examination of the witness, although it did not have much relevance to the case.

Tembo took to the witness stand after Detective Sergeant Ngatirwe Mamiza, who claimed that Mtetwa had scared him from conducting further searches of the premises.

Mtetwa said the claim could have not been true because there were three strong policemen, Mamiza, Mukwazhi and Detective Assistant Inspector Wilfred Chibage who could have not been hindered by “a small woman”.

In her sworn account from the witness stand Tembo, herself a slim policewoman, testifies to have been left single-handedly with Mtetwa in her custody in a car outside at number 14 Bath Road in Belgravia, while the other details led by Chief Superintendent Mukwazhi and Chibage searched the premises.

The trial, which started in June and resumed on Tuesday, September 24, is being heard before Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa.

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