Standard reporter Nqobani Ndlovu will spend the weekend in remand prison after a Bulawayo magistrate decided to make a bail ruling on Monday morning.
Ndlovu’s agony persists after he spent two nights in police custody prior to High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordering the law enforcement agents to take the reporter to court before 4pm on Friday.
Ndlovu appeared before magistrate Sibongile Msipa at 3:30pm.
Through his lawyer Josphat Tshuma, Ndlovu had earlier applied to the higher court seeking an order compelling the police to take him to court.
Police were reluctant to take Ndlovu to court, arguing they wanted to interrogate Ndlovu’s editor, Nevanji Madanhire, who is based in Harare.
In the bail application, Tshuma said Ndlovu is a good candidate for bail as he handed himself over to the police after he heard they were looking for him.
“The accused would not abscond from court as he wants to clear his name.
“He is also aware that he has a strong case against the state and there is no incentive for him to abscond. Furthermore, he is gainfully employed and could not leave his job because of a case he knows he will win,” submitted Tshuma.
He also submitted that charges preferred against Ndlovu were not valid and were being challenged in the Supreme Court.
“The initial charge of contravening Section 96 (1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and subsequently another charge on the second day of contravening Section 31 of the same Act were constitutionally challenged.
It is now sacred law that a government institution cannot be defamed as per the PTC vs. Modus Publications 1997 Volume 2, Zimbabwe Law Reports page 492. The same applies to Section 31.
Otherwise it would make it impossible to criticise the government. The accused has a strong case and has no reason to run away,” Tshuma said.
However, the police represented by investigating officer Moses Boora, said Ndlovu’s evidence was riddled with lies and inconsistencies.
Boora told the court that he was opposed to bail because it was difficult to arrest Ndlovu. But Tshuma challenged him, saying the force had been advised he would be accompanying his client to the police.
Questioned how serious he thought the matter was when even alleged murderers were granted bail yet they knew they were awaiting the hangman’s noose, Boora was evasive.
Ndlovu was arrested on Wednesday in Bulawayo in connection with a story published in last Sunday’s edition of the Standard which said retired police officers and war veterans were being recalled to occupy vacant top posts in the force to direct operations in next year’s polls.