Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Lawyers representing the woman allegedly criminally insulted by CCC Vice President Tendai Biti have written to CCC leader Nelson Chamisa asking him to reverse a party decision to call for demonstrations during Biti’s trial or publicly disassociate the party from the calls if it had nothing to do with them.
In both cases, the lawyers, Scanlen and Holderness, want the trial to proceed without political interference, without the complainant and the witnesses feeling threatened, and in accordance with the due process of the law.
At the same time, the law firm has filed a complaint to the Law Society of Zimbabwe complaining that Biti had breached the Legal Practitioners Code of Conduct through interfering with witnesses in a pending matter before the courts.
Biti is facing charges of threatening Ms Tatiana Aleshina, an international investor, outside Harare Magistrates Court in Gamal Abdel Nasser Road.
According to the lawyers, the message that was circulating read: “Urgent Notice!!! Vice President Hon Tendai Biti will be appearing at Rotten Row Court tomorrow at 11.15am, in Court 9, He is currently facing frivolous charges of assault. The state is now in an overdrive to politicise the matter, and there are plots to convict him. Let’s attend in solidarity with our Champion.”
The lawyers found the message, aimed at mobilising party supporters to attend allegedly in solidarity with Biti, to be a sad indictment for justice and quite disturbing to their client.
“Our client finds it disturbing and is concerned about the implications and potential threat to the security of her person if the action solicited by the message is carried out particularly if the crowd mobilised harbours feelings of ill-will towards witnesses in the case and she being the complainant in the matter,” said Mr Evans Moyo, a senior partner at Scanlen and Holderness.
The message, he said, unnecessarily politicises a matter that is unconcerned with the opposition political party and that involved simple due process in respect of a complaint.
Mr Moyo said the message gave the impression, which the lawyers believed was incorrect, that some are immune from due process when they wrong others because there could be a fear that the matter will turn political because of their political standing.
“We are instructed to inquire if the message reflects the party’s position or is from an official source of communication for the party,” queried Mr Moyo.
“If it is from the party we urge you to reconsider and withdraw the call to allow for due process without fear, hindrance or intimidation of witnesses, in particular our client who feels threatened by the message and its potential repercussions.
“If it is not, we request that your party responds to the message and disassociates with it so as to depoliticise the matter and allow for due process and the rule of law to prevail.”
The law firm has since filed a complaint with the Law Society of Zimbabwe over Biti’s alleged interfering with witnesses in a matter pending before the courts.
In a letter directed to the Law Society’s executive secretary, Scanlen & Holderness, alleged the politician breached section 20 of the schedule to the Legal Practitioners Code of Conduct.
This proscribes engaging in conduct that is likely either to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice by interfering with witnesses to a pending matter before the courts.
Scanlen & Holderness said the call for CCC supporters to come to the court worried their client.
“Our client has nothing to do with politics and this is against her modus as an international investor. She does not want to be involved in the country’s politics and its political arena.
“The message is intimidatory and inspires fear and dread. As a legal practitioner, Mr Biti is now intimidating her and making allegations that she is involved in trying to harm him personally which she finds disturbing and unbecoming of him,” said the law firm.