Sikhala weeps in court over ‘arbitrary arrests’

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

INCARCERATED MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala, who is being charged on allegations of communicating falsehoods through social media, yesterday wept in court, lamenting that he was being abused by prison officials.

Sikhala complained saying that it was inhuman treatment for him to be brought before the courts in leg irons and handcuffed, adding that this was in defiance of a court order barring the prison officials from handcuffing and putting leg irons on accused persons in the court.

Prison officers had argued that there was no problem in them handcuffing or placing leg irons on prisoners from the remand prison to the courts.

Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna, however, dismissed the application, in which he was challenging being placed on remand.

Sikhala was arguing that the law under which he was being charged was non-existent.

He is being charged under section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Appearing for the State, prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti alleged that Sikhala used a Facebook account under the name “Job Wiwa Sikhala” and falsely published that a police officer had killed a nine-month-old child, allegations which the police have dismissed.

Addressing journalists outside the courtroom prior to the proceedings, Sikhala said he was not a criminal and did not deserve to be treated like one.

“There are real criminals who have stolen money in our country, and who have committed very heinous crimes through corruption but they have never been treated this way. I have not committed any crime, but I am being ill-treated,” Sikhala said.

In the courtroom, Sikhala fumed and went on to threaten a prison officer saying that he would charge towards him if he dared come near him.

He said he (prison officer) was the one who orchestrated all the abuse he was subjected to.

“Usaswedera padhuze neni mudhara iwe. Usanditarira mhani (Don’t come near me you old man. Don’t look at me). We are humans, we are humans, why this ill-treatment?” Sikhala shouted, as he charged towards the senior prison officer, before he broke into tears.

The prison officer had to retreat as Sikhala threatened him, and Jacob Ngarivhume, the Transform Zimbabwe leader, who had attended court in solidarity with Sikhala, consoled him.

So bitter was Sikhala that the magistrate had to reprimand him against interjecting during court proceedings.

Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu told the court that it was unconstitutional for the prison officers to bring an unconvicted person in handcuffs and leg irons to court.

Nduna ordered a superior in the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services to appear before him so that he explained why they were defying court orders.

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