BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
OPPOSITION MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala was yesterday left stunned in court after the State sought a remand of six months to next February despite indicating that it was ready for trial.
Sikhala is accused of publishing falsehoods, a charge that he denies and argues does not exist at law.
Sikhala was arrested together with journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, after they allegedly posted on social media that a police officer had fatally assaulted a baby strapped to its mother’s back in Harare.
Chin’ono was acquitted after the High Court ruled that the charge was non-existent.
The State has appealed against the ruling at the Supreme Court, and now wants to remand Sikhala to February next year, a time it believes the Supreme Court would have determined the case.
The State, led by Lancelot Mutsokoti, told the court that it was seeking a long remand to February next year, but Sikhala’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, said the State could always summon him when it was ready for trial or keep him under strict remand conditions such as reporting to police weekly and having his passport withheld.
He said the falsehoods charge had already been deleted in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and the Constitution.
Nkomo said the court should be fair and remove the accused person from remand.
“How cruel can mankind be by asking the accused to report to police, to keep on surrendering his passport and to be kept on remand up to February 24?” asked Nkomo.
Nkomo said the application for removal from remand was necessitated by a High Court judgment, which ruled that communication of falsehoods was not part of the country’s laws, a development also confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
“The State is abusing that judgment of the Supreme Court by keeping the accused person on remand and postponing the matter,” he said.
But Mutsokoti said the matter should be postponed until the results of the Supreme Court appeal were out.
Magistrate Stanford Mambanje postponed the ruling to Tuesday next week.
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