Zimbabwe Lawyers Go On Strike

Beatrice Mtetwa (seen here emerging from court where she was defending foreign journalists arrested by Mugabe), has suffered beatings and harassment at the hands of the police, including one bad beating when she was president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and led a march like the one proposed for tomorrow in Harare, when all lawyers will be on strike.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 November 2009

Lawyers in Zimbabwe will tomorrow (Monday, 16 November 2009) go on strike to protest the harassment of their profession.

The move has been prompted by arrest of a lawyer for Peter Hitschman, Mordecai Mahlangu. Mhlangu works for Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans (who also happen to be the lawyers for Simba Makoni in his ongoing trial for breaching POSA in March last year during the presidential election).

Mahlangu was arrested after writing to the Attorney General of Zimbabwe to tell him that Hitschman was unwilling to testify in the court case against Bennett. Hitschman is the main state witness in the Bennett trial, in which the Attorney-General has personally taken charge of the prosecution team.

Edward Mapara of the Law Society of Zimbabwe announced that all the lawyers will put on their High Court regalia to attend the trial of their colleague, Mahlang, who is out on US$100 bail and is due in court tomorrow.

"All (law) offices will be closed and no appearances will be made in court," announced Mapara.

After appearing in court in solidarity with their colleague, the lawyers plan to march to the Ministry of Justice to protest the continued harassment of their profession. 

The profession is also petitioning the Zimbabwean parliament to investigate the continued harassment of its members. It remains to be seen whether the legislative body will have any teeth in the matter.

This is not the first time that lawyers have marched. In 2007, Beatrice Mtetwa, who is currently leading the Defence  Team for Roy Bennett, was beaten up when lawyers marched in the streets to protest against the same thing. She was photographed with huge bruises from the beating and subsequently won several awards for her bravery.

The arrest of Mahlangu is a classic illustration of how Mugabe uses force on the law, basically raping Lady Justice, in order to achieve his end. As Hitschman's lawyer, he was simply doing his duty in communicating to the Attorney-General that his client was recanting his testimony in which he implicated Roy Bennett because that testimony was not given freely but under torture.

The Attorney General then responded by sending in the law enforcement officers to arrest him in order to ensure that he advised his client to attend Bennett's trial and stick to his now discredited testimony.


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