Sikhala case: Magistrate recuses self

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Job Sikhala

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
HARARE magistrate Ngoni Nduna has recused himself from hearing the case in which Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Job Sikhala is accused of obstruction of justice.

Nduna was accused by the opposition legislator’s lawyer of bias in Sikhala’s previous bail applications.

Sikhala, who is Zengeza West MP, had appeared before Nduna, who went on to deny him bail citing reasons that had not been submitted by his lawyers or the prosecution.

In challenging that decision, Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu applied for Nduna’s recusal saying he was now a political magistrate who always denies opposition politicians bail.

Bamu said the anti-corruption courts have also been turned into political courts for persecuting opposition members.

However, in his ruling to recuse himself from hearing the case, Nduna said Sikhala did not raise grounds for recusal.

Nduna ruled: “When deciding matters of recusal, the courts must put themselves in the minds of the accused. The accused and his fears must be addressed in a subjective manner infused into the objective test to deliver justice. It is not a personal attack on the court application for recusal.

“It seems I put the accused in a position whereby he sees no reasons to fight against the matter. It is on these grounds that I am persuaded to grant the application.”

He referred the matter to other courts for bail hearing.

Barely a month after his arrest over allegations of inciting violence, Sikhala was again charged with making comments that slain CCC member Moreblessing Ali of Nyatsime was brutally murdered by Zanu PF.

Sikhala is jointly charged with CCC MP Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza
North).