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Ndiweni protests lawyer arrest

by Staff reporter
10 Jun 2020 at 07:55hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT critic and dethroned Ntabazinduna traditional leader Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni has protested the arrest of his lawyer Dumisani Dube over the weekend describing it as an attempt to silence human rights attorneys.

Dube, who is representing Ndiweni in his fight with his brother Joram for the Ntabazinduna chieftainship, was dragged to court on charges of allegedly fraudulently obtaining a default judgment for his client at the High Court.

Dube was released on $5 000 bail alongside his co-accused and client George Manyonga.

Ndiweni, who did time at Khami Maximum Prison last year for malicious damage to property before Dube secured his release, on Monday protested the arrest of his lawyer saying it was outrageous.

The dethroned chief was serving an 18-month jail term.

"The arrest of my legal practitioner is only but one of the symptoms of a cancerous judicial system that has since lost its independence. The principle of rule of law has merely become academic in our country," charged Ndiweni, who accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa of rigging his way to victory in the 2018 harmonised elections.

Government once challenged Ndiweni to join the political terrain, accusing him of being an opposition activist.

Dube's arrest follows that of MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa's lawyer Thabani Mpofu, Tapiwa Makanza and Joshua Chirambwe on charges of allegedly defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

His arrest came at a time concerns have been raised over an increase in human rights violations by the police enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

"We cannot have a situation whereupon legal practitioners can no longer carry out their work without fear of being victimised or intimidated. I strongly condemn the hijacking of our judiciary system in order to be used for the furtherance of personal vendettas," Ndiweni added.

"Justice thrives on independence of the judiciary, that is why there is a principle called separation of powers. The government must desist from using the judiciary to further its own agendas. The government must stop its reign of terror on legal practitioners."

Ndiweni is challenging his removal as Ntabazinduna chief by the Local Government ministry that claimed that his chieftainship was being contested by his elder brother who argues that he is the heir apparent to the throne.

Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ) also condemned the arrest and detention of legal practitioners and called on the government to uphold the rule of law.

YLAZ, in a statement, said law enforcement agents want to intimidate and frustrate the legal practitioners from discharging their duties without fear or prejudice.

"Set against the backdrop of a week of global protests against State brutality and discrimination, the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ) is increasingly concerned by the continued deterioration of civil liberties in Zimbabwe and in particular the sustained attack on the legal profession," YLAZ said.

"The events of the last week create an impression of an assault against the legal profession which negatively affects lawyers' ability to represent litigants without fear, which actions endanger the future of our profession.

"In the past week alone, at least six lawyers have been targeted by the police directly in relation to the exercise of their ordinary work as lawyers. Four lawyers, namely Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Tapiwa Makanza, Joshua Chirambwe and Dumisani Dube, were arrested and charged with obstructing the course of justice and another two lawyers, Choice Damiso and Lawman Chimuriwo were taken in for questioning by the police and later released without charge."

YLAZ said the action by the State brought the independence and impartiality of the justice system into disrepute.

"We remind the Prosecutor-General of his constitutional obligation to exercise his functions impartially and without fear, favour, prejudice or bias as required by section 260 of the Constitution," the association said.

YLAZ also condemned the partisan use of the police and army by the government to "settle" civil disputes between opposition political parties.

Source - newsday

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