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Sikhala makes 8th attempt at freedom

by Staff reporter
16 Oct 2022 at 19:32hrs | Views
ZENGEZA West MP and senior member of the opposition Citizens' Coalition for Change, Job Sikhala, on Friday made an eighth attempt at freedom, citing changed circumstances.

He is scheduled to appear in court for a ruling on the application on 19 October.

The Sikhala family spokesperson, Freddy Michael Masarirevu, says the application was made on the basis that a petition signed by more than 50 000 Zimbabweans contradicts the magistrate's submission that granting Sikhala freedom will result in the public losing trust in the bail system.

"A lot has changed since the last bail ruling. One of the reasons that was given by the court as a basis for denying Honourable Job Sikhala bail is that the public will lose confidence in the bail system. Fortunately our legal team has managed to demonstrate that the public is losing confidence in the court system itself by failing to release him on bail. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that the petition has been submitted in court showing that in excess of 50 000 people in Zimbabwe signed a petition demanding the release of Honourable Job Sikhala. So this is a clear sign that the public is actually losing confidence in the court system itself, contrary to the assertion that was made by the court that by releasing Honourable Job Sikhala the public will lose faith in the bail system," said Masarirevu.

The petition, he said, should be evidence enough that the people that he was referring to in the judgement want Sikhala released.

"The courts are for the people, they are meant to serve the people, so effectively they have to consider what the people are saying. The petititon is a representation of what the general public think towards the matter, towards their conduct as judicial officers," he said.

"When the applications were made, the petition was not there. Our assumption is that the courts did not know the general thinking of the public out there. So we are hopeful that by going through the petition they will at least be able to understand what the public think, not only about them but about everything surrounding the matter. We definitely hope that they consider that, because the courts are for the people."

Sikhala has been in police custody since 14 June 2022 when he was arrested alongside co-accused Chitungwiza North legislator Godfrey Sithole on charges of inciting public violence. This came after they successfully convened a prayer meeting in Nyatsime for their party member, Moreblessing Ali, who was gruesomely murdered by suspected Zanu-PF member Pius Jamba.

He has been denied bail four times at the magistrates' court and thrice at the High Court since then.

Asked whether the latest bid for freedom would turn around Sikhala's fortunes, Masarirevu said they can only hope.

"We have no option but to be confident that eventually there will be a greenlight, because what we cannot do is to just sit and not do anything about it. We are hoping that the events that are unfolding in the country will at least inform those that are dealing with these matters to see the state of affairs out there and be able to make a decision that is based on law and not any other factor that may influence the outcome."

The case of Sikhala has been taken as a political case in which the ruling party is using the courts to deal with dissenting voices.

In the aftermath of the prayer meeting in Nyatsime, 14 other people were arrested for inciting violence although some of them had had their homes torched.

Senator Morgen Komichi, from the MDC-Alliance, raised Sikhala's matter in the Senate this week, saying it was a case of the violation of rights of accused persons, given the nature of the allegations.

"This country has experienced serious crimes committed by armed robbers, serial killers, rapists and many crimes. These criminals have their rights and they are protected by the state. My question is: These particular criminals that I have mentioned have been given bail, these armed robbers. Today the country is aware of Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and others; is this not a violation of their rights? Is this not selective application of the law and the constitution? Zimbabweans want to know how the government is tackling this matter. I thank you," said Komichi.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi responded, saying he had no jurisdiction over court decisions.

"Firstly, let me start by indicating that the question that I am being asked is that I am being asked to interrogate judicial decisions which, according to the constitution, I do not have a right to interrogate, neither do I have a right to question them when a judgement is passed. Even when I question, you also indicate that the minister is now interfering with their area of jurisdiction. However, sometimes I comment as an ordinary citizen who is just aggrieved but not to say that I can get into details of asking why you are giving this particular decision and why you are not doing this particular decision."

Ziyambi added that Sikhala was denied bail because he violated bail conditions of his previous cases that are still before the courts. The minister denied allegations that the courts are handing down politically motivated judgements.

"My understanding is that you are on bail on a specific case and there are conditions that are attached to that. If you violate your bail conditions, then the bail will not be granted should you commit another offence. That is the general principle. The individual so concerned, my understanding which I just read, not to say that I was schooled by the judiciary from going to ask about judicial decisions, but that is not my duty; the decision of the courts was on the basis of the fact that a bail was granted, bail conditions were violated and that is the reason to deny bail.

Over and above that, I would not be very competent to question their decision. A judge or a magistrate, when they are dealing with a case, even their superiors cannot even direct them. They must enjoy their independence when they are dispensing that particular case. So, I submit that the general rule or advice is for us not to play politics but to follow court rules when we are in courts and then when we are outside or in this august House, we can then use the rules that pertain to what we do here. When we are in court, sometimes as politicians, we must refrain from abusing the courts for political expediency," said Ziyambi.

Sikhala fell sick while in prison amid fears of poisoning, but has since recovered. Masarirevu says the lawmaker is getting better.

"He is okay, he recovered from that. We did have a scare but he got over it, but we thank God he managed to get treatment. Now he is okay, except that he is in prison. You can never be 100% okay when you are incarcerated. It's always difficult to be away from your family, but he is managing," he said.

Sikhala's trial on allegations of inciting violence in Nyatsime is slated for 5 November.

Source - thenewshawks
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