HARARE – Former Zengeza West lawmaker Job Sikhala was on Wednesday found guilty by a Harare magistrate at the end of a trial in which he was accused of publishing falsehoods.
The politician was accused of posting on Facebook that a police officer had struck and killed a baby with a baton stick while enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations in Harare back in 2020.
This followed viral images of a motionless infant who was strapped on her mother’s back as the woman angrily tussled a uniformed police officer accusing him of killing her baby.
It later turned out the woman indeed had confrontation with the police operative, but the baby was alive.
Sikhala was still found guilty even after he had denied during trial that he was owner of the Facebook account used as the basis of prosecutors’ claims of publishing falsehoods.
Presiding magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka ruled the Facebook account in question belonged to Sikhala “because it had his name and his face”.
“In assessing the weight of electronic evidence, reliability of the place it was stored will be taken into account.
“It is clear that the name and picture appearing on the page is Job Sikhala.
“The Facebook page contains the accused’s name and face. The utterances align with the accused’s political rhetoric.
“The court is convinced that the evidence before the court points to one thing; the Facebook page belongs to the accused.
“Therefore, the accused published the prejudicial statement which was meant to undermine the authority of the ZRP.
“Therefore, the accused is found guilty of communicating falsehoods,” ruled Chakanyuka.
Sikhala was remanded out of custody and will be back in court on February 16 for sentencing.
Speaking to the media soon after the ruling, Sikhala’s lawyers said they were set to appeal the politician’s conviction.
Sikhala is fresh from nearly 600 days of continuous incarceration at Chikurubi Maximum Prison on charges of inciting public violence.
Together with CCC legislator Godfrey Sithole, he was last week released of a wholly suspended two-year prison sentence by Harare Magistrate Tafadzwa Miti.