Access to Client (Zimbabwe)

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Having found out from the police why the client was arrested, the next stage is to obtain access to the client. The client has a right to access to his lawyer and the lawyer has a right to access to his client: Slatter & Ors 1983 (2) ZLR 144 (H).

Should the police or other detaining agency refuse to allow the legal practitioner to speak to his client, an urgent application should be made to the High Court compelling the police or other agency to allow access by the lawyer to his client. Section 13(3) of the Constitution lays down that an arrested person must be permitted to see his lawyer without delay.

Sometimes, where the lawyer attempts to gain access to his client over a weekend, the police will say that access cannot be allowed until the investigating officer or a more senior officer gives his permission and that that officer is not presently on duty and it will only be possible to contact him on Monday. It is legally impermissible to deny access on these grounds. This should be pointed out to the police and the lawyer should insist that he be able to interview his client without delay.

If the police insist on knowing the name of the person who instructed you to seek access to the prisoner and refuse to allow you access to the prisoner unless this information is revealed, you must be in a position to deal with this situation. You must ask the person instructing you whether he is prepared to have his name and address revealed to the police. It would seem, however, that the police actually do not have the right to demand revelation of the name of the person who has instructed you.


See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual