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Another weekend behind bars for Sikhala



JAILED opposition lawmaker Job Sikhala will endure more jail time after his fresh bail bid hearing was moved to Monday.

Sikhala, also a lawyer, was locked up on 14 June this year after a memorial service for slain Citizens’ Coalition for Change activist Moreblessing Ali.

The state accused him of inciting public violence following the destruction of property.
Sikhala was arrested alongside fellow opposition member of Parliament, Godfrey Sithole.
Fourteen other opposition activists were also arrested and charged with public violence,  with the state holding them accountable for destroying Zanu PF officials’ houses in the Nyatsime area during Ali’s memorial wake.

Sithole was released last week after he applied for bail separately.

Days later, the 14 activists were also freed on ZW$50 000 by the High Court.
Prior, the entire team’s bail requests were turned down on grounds they were likely to re-offend.

In the present matter, Sikhala is seeking bail on changed circumstances after having clocked 157 days jail (by 18 November) behind bars.

He is being represented by advocate Thabani Mpofu and lawyers Douglas Coltart and Jeremiah Bamu.

Despite being the only one still locked up, Sikhala was all jovial with the public gallery overflowing with activists, friends and family who attended the court session in solidarity.
Sikhala donned an Arsenal Football Club jersey emblazoned Wiwa at the back, in reference to his nickname.

As soon as he entered the courtroom, the gallery erupted with joy, screaming “Wiwa!”, leaving anti-riot officers unsettled.

However, the hearing could not proceed due to load-shedding.

Appearing for the state, George Manokore told magistrate Tafadzwa Miti that Sikhala’s lawyer had submitted a written application and they were ready to argue if court allowed it because there was no electricity.

Mpofu challenged the postponement, saying proceedings can always be handwritten.
He said any further detention was prejudicial to his client.

“Our position is that we respectfully insist on the application being argued. By constitutional command, matters that relate to liberty cannot be delayed because they are by their very nature more important,” said Mpofu.

“The reasons given by the state are not sufficient, what if we come on Monday and there is still no electricity? This is prejudicial to the accused.”

Mpofu said provisions of section 5 of the Magistrates Act establishes “writing” as sufficient precedure for a court of record.

“Right now we are on record, so we can proceed this way,” he said.

Manokore insisted the state would be guided by the court. The magistrate said the matter has always been electronically recorded, so she would not allow changes at this stage. She then postponed the bail hearing to Monday. — Staff Writer.

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