Mtetwa Can Represent Chin’ono, Nduna Ordered To Recuse Himself
High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou has set aside a ruling by a Harare magistrate that disbarred human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from representing her client Hopewell Chin’ono.
Justice Zhou Nduna also ordered the magistrate, Ngoni Nduna to recuse himself from Chin’ono’s case which is currently pending before the magistrate’s court, and ruled that another magistrate should take over the matter.
“Justice Zhou sets aside Magistrate Nduna’s disqualification of Beatrice Mtetwa and instead disqualifies Magistrate Nduna from presiding over Chino’no’s criminal trial and orders that a new Magistrate presides over,” the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.
In November this year Chin’ono was accused of abusing judicial procedures by the State following his application to have magistrate Ngoni Nduna recused from presiding over his case.
Chin’ono made his application through Advocate Taona Nyamakura stating that he held a reasonable apprehension that Nduna may be biased in his handling of the case where he is charged with inciting violence prior to the July 31 flopped anti-looting demonstrations.
Nyamakura submitted that Chin’ono feared whether proceedings of the case would meet the standard set in section 69 (1) of the Constitution and that the application was being made before the rightful court.
Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi told the court that Chin’ono was abusing judicial processes by placing a similar matter in two different courts.
“Having the same application before two courts is abuse of procedure. Applicant must choose one forum to pursue his grievances as both courts can achieve his desired results.
“He first filed his application at the High Court on September 7, 2020 and has to be patient for the High Court to give its determination.”
Chin’ono’s application for recusal had equivalent facts as that before the High Court.
“The High Court is yet to make a decision on their application. They should have withdrawn it before coming to this court with the same application. The court should deny hearing the application which is pending in a higher court.”
Mabhaudhi said that magistrates were trained lawyers with the ability to preside over matters impartially without fear or favour and the court should not entertain the application.
“The court is not obliged to recuse itself from the case as judicial officers are impartial in adjudicating cases. What applicant is seeking is a myth. He has failed to justify the court to recuse itself on a balance of probabilities,” Mabhaudhi said then.
Meanwhile, High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore has granted the temporary release of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s passport, enabling him to travel for a scheduled medical procedure abroad.
The passport was released for a period of 21 days.
“The applicant is authorised to travel to South Africa for special medical attention from 18th December 2020 to 7 January 2021,” said Mushore in her ruling.
“The High Court of Zimbabwe has agreed to release my passport for 21 days. The State was opposed to the release of the passport. The judge restricted my travel to Gauteng Province. I had secured an appointment in London. So it is back to looking for an appointment in South Africa,” Chin’ono said just after the ruling.
The State had argued that it was against the interests of justice to grant the release of the passport as Chin’ono had connections outside the country and could abscond trial if he is given the chance to leave the country.
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