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Black History Month – those that influenced us – Beatrice Mtetwa: a Justice Warrior

Date posted: 16 October 2020

During Black History Month our lawyers will be reflecting on the cases and the black lawyers and activists who have most influenced them in their legal career.

 

Our Sijabuliso Dube, a caseworker in the Public Law department, pays tribute to the lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

 

For over three decades, Beatrice has been defending and fighting for Zimbabweans who have spoken out in opposition to the Mugabe’s administration. Her fight has ensured that the rule of law should be upheld in the nation of Zimbabwe, in spite of the rife political tensions at the time. Her courage, tenacity and unbridled belief in justice have ensured that many Zimbabweans, who many were without the financial means, could be protected in a nation whose government had turned its back on them.

 

I first came across Beatrice, whilst I was at University. Although I was very much aware of the tensions in Zimbabwe, I did not know that there were warriors who were working to ensure that justice was upheld. In discovering the work of Beatrice, I had also discovered the type of lawyer that I wanted to be. I wanted to help the helpless, and fight for those who were in need.

 

Beatrice’s work has meant that she is not a stranger to scare tactics and violence that have also been inflicted on many of her clients. She has been held in police custody, beaten and threatened. However, this has not intimidated her courage nor has it scared her away from her fight for justice.

 

More recently in 2013, Beatrice was acquitted of obstructing the course of justice. Although she had vehemently denied the accusations against her, she found herself seeking protection in the same nation that she sought to protect others.

 

For Beatrice, a successful result for her client was more than an individual victory. These victories meant that the forces that sought to destabilise the rule of law in Zimbabwe would remain unsuccessful. A victory for each Zimbabwean would ensure that the next would be able to exercise the freedoms afforded to them under the constitution.

 

The title of “Justice Warrior” is grand, but befitting. Beatrice continues to be a steadfast advocate for her clients. She is prepared to go above and beyond her duty as a lawyer in order to ensure that the liberties of every Zimbabwean are not eroded, but rather, protected. It is her belief that a voice that questions the government should not be quashed and silenced. Instead, these are the voices that engage and encourage true democracy within a nation.

 

Beatrice’s example has shown me that “justice for one, is justice for all”. With each victory that we make, we play our part in ensuring that the motor of justice continues to run.