ZimRights director Okay Machisa, facing allegations of manufacturing fake voter registration certificates, yesterday emerged victorious against the State after High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta ruled in his favour and granted him bail.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
In her ruling, Justice Chatukuta said it was clear from the submissions made in court by Machisa’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and the State’s concession that the magistrate who denied him bail had misdirected himself.
The human rights activist faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud or alternatively publishing or communicating information prejudicial to the State
“I am of the view and firm conclusion that the (lower court) misdirected itself and I will grant appellant bail on condition he surrenders surety in the form of immovable property of a substantial value,” Chatukuta said.
As part of his bail condition, Machisa was further ordered to pay $500, to reside at the address he supplied to the police, to surrender travel documents and title deeds for his house in Belvedere, Harare.
Justice Chatukuta said Machisa was unlikely to skip bail judging by the attitude he exhibited before he was arrested. Machisa was denied bail by provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe on the basis that the offence was serious in nature, but the judge said the consideration of that factor by the lower court was a misdirection since no evidence was presented by the State to substantiate the claim.
The court also said the seriousness of the offence did not preclude the granting of bail to any accused person. On the question of interference with evidence, the court said until his arrest on January 14, Machisa never attempted to destroy any evidence contrary to the State’s assertion.
“If he wanted to destroy evidence, he would have done so since it took almost a month for the police to arrest him . . . The State consented there was no evidence to suggest that he attempted to do so,” Chatukuta added.
The court also said there was no link between Machisa and the alleged offences.