The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has barred Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from visiting incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono at Chikurubi Maximum prison.
In a letter to Ms Mtetwa, ZPCS acting director legal services Assistant Commissioner Risiro said they disagreed with her interpretation of the court order which barred her from representing Chin’ono.
“The order that was made by Magistrate Nduna in paragraph 1 reads ‘that the disqualification of Ms Beatrice Mtetwa as a counsel participating in this matter is hereby granted as prayed for by the state’ Your interpretation of the order is obviously different from that of the ZPCS. We are not aware of the order by the magistrate having been set aside or let alone having been challenged.
“Our interpretation as ZPCS is that you were disqualified as a counsel participating in the matter before the Magistrate. We therefore do not agree with your interpretation that the order does not bar you from representing Mr. Chin’ono or from being part of the legal team representing him. We do not understand participating in a case being only limited to appearance before the magistrate but also consultations with clients in preparation of the case.” said Assistant Commissioner Risiro.
He added “Whether the order by the Magistrate is competent or not is something else. The position of the ZPCS is that whilst the order by the magistrate still stands you remain barred from consulting with Mr Hopewell Chin’ono at Chikurubi maximum.”
He said any other lawyer was free to visit Chin’ono in terms of Justice Charewa’s High Court order and Covid-19 guidelines.
“All visits you have had with him were to do with lawyer and client relationship with him such as his bail applications. We are not aware of any other matters pending in which you represent him. For the record any other lawyer is free to visit and consult with him subject to the terms of Justice Charewa’s order in case number HC4248/20. Any other visits shall be in terms of the COVID-19 guidelines limiting visits to prisons.”
Magistrate Nduna barredMtetwa from representing Chin’ono citing alleged unethical conduct.