Sikhala denied bail, again

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Job Sikhala

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) vice-chairperson Job Sikhala was today denied bail again.

He is accused of obstructing justice after accusing Zanu PF of murdering Moreblessing Ali, a CCC activist who was brutally murdered in June by a suspected Zanu PF activist, Pius (alias Jamba) Mukandi.

Sikhala is also accused of violating bail conditions to desist from addressing groups on WhatsApp.

In a ruling prepared by Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje, but read by magistrate Florence Chakanyuka, Sikhala was denied bail because the charges he is facing involve breaking conditions set by the courts.

Mambanje said the accused had shown failure to respect the conditions.

“The applicant wilfully violated bail conditions. It will be irresponsible for a judicial officer to grant him bail. There are compelling reasons why he cannot be granted bail,” Mambanje said, adding that his refusal to grant Sikhala bail was in the interest of justice as granting him bail would endanger the safety of the public.

Sikhala’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told Chakanyuka that they were expecting such a ruling as the courts have always denied bail to opposition supporters.

The matter was postponed to August 8.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Forum) has red-flagged continuous denial of bail to opposition CCC members by the courts, describing it as “weaponisation of the law and a worrisome trend”.

Chitungwiza North MP Godfrey Sithole is in jail with Sikhala in a matter where they are jointly accused of fuelling violence in Nyatsime following Ali’s murder.

A total of 15 other CCC members were also arrested following the Nyatsime violence.

These include Precious Jeche, Misheck Guzha and Odius Makoma who were victims of the violence after their houses were burnt. The Forum is representing 13 CCC members at the courts.

The Forum lawyers were told that they cannot be given bail because they will interfere with investigations.

“The two remain incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison where they have, to date, spent a total of 34 days in pre-trial incarceration since their arrest on 14 June 2022,” the Forum said in a statement.

“In light of the above, the Forum accordingly recommends that the court as the highest custodian of justice upholds the Constitution by safeguarding the right of every accused person to bail where they qualify. The courts protect and enforce equal treatment before the law without discrimination based on political affiliation or social status. The Judiciary makes enquiry into the worrisome trend of denial of bail for political detainees which, in most cases, results in the overturning of the decisions by the High Court on appeal.”

The prolonged pre-trial detention has now prompted leading international law firm, Amsterdam and Partners LLP based in Washington DC and London to join Sikhala’s legal team to fight his “unjustified” detention.

Its managing partner Andrew Durkovich said:  “The firm is engaged to assist the client in connection with legal and political issues in Zimbabwe.  This engagement shall commence as of the date of this letter and shall continue until such time as it is terminated by either party.”

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