Sikhala trial kicks off amid contradicting testimonies
THE trial of embattled Zengeza West lawmaker Job Sikhala, accused of inciting public violence, began this week amid inconsistent testimony by law enforcement agents.
On Wednesday, Officer Commanding Law and Order Edmore Runganga, told the court that he saw the video on 13 June 2022. He said he saw a prima facie case that informed his decision to arrest, and ordered his juniors to download the video.
When detective seargent Gift Mutamba appeared as the technical expert, he told the court that Runganga brought the video on 12 June on flash. He said he transferred the video to his office desktop. His testimony was in direct contradiction of Rungaga’s statement during Wednesday’s cross examination.
The video has the police in sixes and sevens; while they agree on the utterances, they are not in concurrence on the chronology.
Runganga told the court that Sikhala was wearing a black cap and a brown shirt, while Mutamba told the court the legislator was wearing a black cap and blue-and-yellow shirt-like African attire.
On the length of the video, Runganga said on all the platforms that he watched the video on, namely WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter, it was about 5 minutes long while Mutamba said the video in his possession is 46 seconds long.
This became one of Sikhala’s pillars in objecting to the state and its witnesses to bring video evidence as exhibits arguing there are high chance of it having been tampered with.
“Mr Runganga told the honourable court that the video was 5 minute long when he saw it, but, second witness told the court that the video in his posession was 46 seconds long. One wonders what happened to the 4minutes and 14 seconds,” said Sikhala through his lawyer Jeremiah Bamu.
Sikhala is accused alongside Chitungwiza North lawmaker Godfrey Sithole, and the police seem not to be able to point out how he is linked to the incitement charge.
The charge is that both had incited violence by posting a video with such contents.
Sithole is out on bail and is being represented by Oliver Marwa.
Sikhala was arrested in June 2022, Twitter allowed a maximum of two minutes and 20 seconds on videos until December 2022, and more recently two gigabytes of videos for paid or subscribed users.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a louder cry for Sikhala’s release as Hararians woke up on Monday to a colourful CBD through graffiti enscribed “Free Job” and “Free Jacob” on the walls of the Constitutional Court, Civil Court, Karigamombe Centre as well as TelOne’s Runhare House.
Sikhala has spent 345 days in custody and has been denied bail several times at both the lower and the higher court.
Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of the opposition Transform Zimbabwe, was convicted in April 2023 of inciting public violence ahead of the July 2020 protests.
Also on Monday, students under the banner of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union observed “Black Monday” demanding justice for the two political prisoners.
Later that day, students held a flash protest at ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs offices demanding Sikhala and Ngarivhume’s release. Four students were arrested during the protests.