Job Sikhala denied bail

MDC deputy chairman Job Sikhala was denied bail on Thursday following his arrest on August 21 accused of incitement of public violence.

Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube said Sikhala had been found hiding and also ignored a police announcement that they were looking for him along with 13 other pro-democracy activists.

Ncube said that he had to consider the interests of justice and those of the public in coming up with the ruling.

The magistrate said the evidence of police officers did not contain any malice. The police officers who testified said they found the Zengeza West MP hiding in the ceiling of a house in Tynwald.

“Cumulatively the witnesses had no reasons to lie against the accused,” Ncube said. “If he had gone to collect his wife (from the house), then why was he hiding in the ceiling? It shows he was avoiding justice.”

Police issued a statement in late July, days before planned anti-government protests, saying Sikhala was wanted for an “interview”. This followed several videos he recorded supporting the call for demonstrations.

“Assuming that he never saw the press statement, from the videos it shows that he was somehow aware that the police was looking for him,” Lazini said. “He was aware that the police was already looking for him. If he was not hiding, he should have surrendered himself to the police. It was incumbent on the accused to approach the nearest police station to check for his name, but he went on to shoot some videos which he publicised.”

Sikhala told the court earlier this week that he had been arrested 64 times over the years but never absconded. Ncube said that this does not lessen the weight of his alleged crime.

“Each case should be treated based on its own merits. In light of this evidence, this court is of the view that this candidate is not suitable for bail and it is hereby denied,” the magistrate ruled.

The state had opposed bail arguing that Sikhala was likely to reoffend if granted bail. In addition, the state said Sikhala had pending cases and was constantly in brush with the law.

Prosecutors said if convicted, he was likely to face a custodial sentence which might force him to flee if granted bail.

Prosecutor Garudzo Ziyaduma also submitted that there are compelling reasons that he committed the alleged offence, citing the video evidence.

Sikhala’s lawyer Advocate Eric Matinenga said Sikhala was being persecuted for exercising his constitutional right to free speech.

His defence team intends to appeal the bail ruling at the High Court.

Source – zimlive