Beatrice Mtetwa
Beatrice Mtetwa.jpg
Other namesTele
Occupation
  • Lawyer
Known forBeing a human right's lawyer
ChildrenTandy, Mxolisa

Beatrice Tele Mtetwa is a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer. She is known for representing several journalists. In 2014 she was honoured among 10 extraordinary women from 10 countries presented with the US Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award.

Background

Beatrice Mtetwa was born in Swaziland in the rural community. Mtetwa is the eldest daughter of a father who had six wives and more than 50 children. Beatrice Mtetwa has a daughter Tandy and son Mxolisa.[1] with former husband and mathematician, Dr. David Mtetwa, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe whom she married in 1989.[2] Mtetwa moved to Zimbabwe in 1983.

Education

She graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) from the University of Botswana and Swaziland in 1981.[1]

Career

Mtetwa worked as a prosecutor in Swaziland and in Zimbabwe from 1981 to 1989. She went into private practice in Harare in February 1989. Mtetwa also sits on various commercial boards, including the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers, the Mail and Guardian Media Group, and Pioneer Africa Corporation (a diversified transport company operating in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda).[1]


Famous Cases

Elias Mudzuri, who was mayor of Harare at the time, was released after two nights in jail when Mtetwa obtained a High Court order instructing police to produce him in court and make clear the charges against him. Mudzuri had been arrested together with several other city Councillors during a meeting with residents of Mabvuku. No charges were filed but police said Mudzuri had violated the Public Order and Security Act by not seeking advance permission to hold the meeting. He was released by High Court judge Benjamin Paradza who said he appeared to have no case to answer and he refused a police request to have Mudzuri kept in detention while investigations continued.[3]

Arrest And Trial

On March 17, 2013, Mtetwa was arrested for allegedly attempting to block the police from searching the house of a senior MDC-T official in Westgate and private offices of then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare. Police had allegedly received information the previous day that MDC-T officials Tabani Mpofu, Warship Dumba, Felix Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma were unlawfully compiling criminal dockets in respect of prominent government officials. Mtetwa's arrest and detention for eight days was condemned locally, regionally and internationally and landed High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe in trouble for ordering her unconditional release a day after she was arrested.[4]

She was accused of shouting at the officers and demanding to see an arrest warrant. High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa freed her on bail of $500 bail.[5]

Court Orders Cancellation of her Practicing Certificate

Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna has ruled that prominent Human Rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa stands down from representing award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin'ono. He also directed that the Law Society of Zimbabwe should cancel her license for scandalising the court.

The prosecutor had made an application calling for Swaziland born Mtetwa to step down from the trial because she was using a social media page called Beatrice Mtetwa and the rule of law to post court proceedings.

Mtetwa is accused of contempt due to comments posted on a Facebook page associated with her. The State prosecutor said that Mtetwa must have taken corrective action against people running the “Beatrice Mtetwa and The Rule of Law” Facebook page, when she realised that they were denigrating the courts. He further alleged that Mtetwa’s conduct was “unethical and unprofessional” by failing to act on information produced under her name that denigrated the courts.

Mtetwa, however, submitted that the application to remove her from Chin’ono’s case is sui generis, meaning it has no legal basis, because the prosecutor relied on “obiter” remarks made by a High Court judge.[6]

Commenting on the judgment, senior journalist Brezh Malaba said, "With respect, the magistrate is overplaying his hand here. Beatrice Mtetwa is an internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer. She's a fearless defender of politically persecuted Zimbabweans. This ruling raises serious questions about the state of the justice delivery system."[7]

Application to overturn her ban

Beatrice has filed an application for review at High Court seeking to overturn a ban imposed by Magistrate Nduna barring her from representing Hopewell Chin'ono arrested in July 2020 & charged with inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Mtetwa represented by Douglas Coltart also wants the High Court to set aside Magistrate Nduna’s ruling & for him to be disqualified from presiding over Chin’ono’s trial & for Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi to be banned from participating in prosecuting the freelance journalist."[8]

Awards

In 2005, she won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She also won Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. The European Bar Human Rights Institute awarded her the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in 2009.[9] Mtetwa also won the 2010 International Human Rights award of the American Bar Association. In 2011, she was awarded the Inamori Ethics Prize by Case Western Reserve University in the United States.[1]

Personal Life

Mtetwa was in a committed relationship with late university Professor, Sam Moyo.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Zimbabwe’s Woman Called Moses: Beatrice Mtetwa, Global Black History, published: March 18, 2013, retrieved: August 4, 2016
  2. Nevanji Madanhire, Beatrice Mtetwa has the right to be here, Standard, published: April 7, 2013, retrieved: August 4, 2016
  3. Mtetwa got Mudzuri out, Insider, published: March 24, 2013, retrieved: August 4, 2016
  4. The State case against Beatrice Mtetwa, NewsDay, published: May 24, 2013, retrieved: August 4, 2016
  5. Beatrice Mtetwa case: Zimbabwe court grants lawyer bail, BBC, published: March 25, 2013, retrieved: August 4, 2016
  6. Fazila Mahomed, [1], Daily Maverick, Published: 17 August, 2020, Accessed: 18 August, 2020
  7. Mandla Ndlovu, [2], Bulawayo 24 News, Published: 18 August, 2020, Accessed: 18 August, 2020
  8. [3], Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Published: 8 September, 2020, Accessed: 8 September, 2020
  9. LUDOVIC TRARIEUX PRIZE 2009, Ludovic Trarieux, published: No Date Given, retrieved: August 4, 2016