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Sikhala files new bail application

Local News
Sikhala, who was arrested on June 14, is being represented by Jeremiah Bhamu and Beatrice Mtetwa.  He argues that the passage of time had changed circumstances pertaining to his bail.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Job Sikhala, who is accused of obstructing the course of justice filed another bail application yesterday challenging the lengthy period that he has spent in remand prison.

Sikhala, who was arrested on June 14, is being represented by Jeremiah Bhamu and Beatrice Mtetwa.  He argues that the passage of time had changed circumstances pertaining to his bail.

“We would like to apply for bail on the basis of changed circumstances, due to the passage of time as you are aware that the passage of time on its own is a basis for applying for bail,” Mtetwa said.

“The State had said they will complete their investigations on July 29, but it’s now more than four weeks.”

Mtetwa said the State had failed to proffer compelling reasons why Sikhala should be kept in remand prison.

She said in previous cases, the High Court ruled that only compelling reasons could keep an accused person in detention.

“The investigation officer failed to substantiate his reasons for opposing bail. The failure to comply with the criminal provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act would be in violation of the Act,” Mtetwa submitted.

She proposed that Sikhala be given $50 000 bail and ordered not to interfere with State witnesses.

But the State represented by Lancelot Mutsokoti opposed the bail saying there were no changed circumstances in the matter.

“The State is opposed and we argued that there are no changed circumstances for the court to take a new look on bail consideration. The changed circumstances advanced by the accused person are not compelling and there is no evidence submitted before the court to show any warrant for the granting of bail,” Mutsokoti said, noting that there was no documentary evidence to show the changed circumstances.

“While we acknowledge the accused person is in custody, we need to consider circumstances and this is not the considerate time to have him out. The conduct of accused person violated bail conditions.”

Mutsokoti denied that there was anything political in his prosecution.

Mtetwa, however, questioned the State’s failure to speed up Sikhala’s trial since he was in custody, and that no court papers pertaining to the matter were released despite issuance of a trial date. She said it defeated the course of justice.

A letter written by deputy prosecutor-general Michael Reza indicated that there were no State papers pertaining to the matter showing the State’s desire to try Sikhala.

“If he has a trial date there is no reason why he cannot be tried coming from home. Whatever reason the High Court said on denying the accused bail does not change the fact of the passage of time,” Mtetwa said, adding that the State lied that her client had shown propensity to commit offences.

Mutsokoti opposed the submission of the letter from Reza before the court saying it was of no purport in the matter.

Mtetwa argued that Mambanje must accept the evidence because there were no court regulations on bail application.

“The State is refusing to provide the State papers, but continues asking you to deny him bail — that is not fair,” she said.

Mambanje said he would consider the letter in the application, and insisted that he would allow the prosecutor to make submissions on it.

Mambanje postponed the matter to today for bail ruling.

Sikhala faces incitement to violence allegations after he addressed a funeral of the late CCC member, Moreblessing Ali who was brutally murdered by a suspected Zanu PF member, Pius (alias Jamba) Mukandi who has since been arrested and is yet to face trial.

Sikhala is also charged with obstruction of justice in Nyatsime after he accused Zanu PF of killing Ali.

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