Verdict of Beatrice Mtetwa Trial
Today Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa delivered a verdict of not guilty in the Beatrice Mtetwa trial where charges of contravening Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly defeating or obstructing the course of justice had been leveled against the human rights lawyer . She was arrested on 17 March 2013 and had been defending the matter in court since 10 June 2013.The Magistrate gave reasons for her judgment saying that Mtetwa had done nothing to interfere with the investigations the police were conducting. She cited that the police testimony was contradictory and it did nothing to put the Mtetwa to her defence. The inspection in loco conducted at the premises where the arrest was effected also served to cast the State’s case in doubt and bad light as it was established that there was no way Mtetwa could have interfered with what was going on in an area of the house where she could not see what was happening; whilst guarded and in handcuffs in a vehicle outside the premises. The Magistrate castigated the police for presenting contradictory testaments when they are professionals whose work relies on observation. She also made it clear that it is not an offence to take photographs and in any case after forensic examination ,Mtetwa’s phone was found without any evidence that photographs of the scene had been taken. The Magistrate found that there is no evidence that Mtetwa stopped or interfered with the search and returned a verdict of not guilty. More to follow.