HARARE – Job Sikhala’s trial finally kicked off Tuesday with the incarcerated Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) top official requesting court proceedings to be streamed live so as to allow relatives and allies to follow proceedings in real time.
The Chitungwiza lawmaker is accused of disturbing police investigations into Moreblessing Ali’s murder sometime between May and June last year when he stood as the late activist’s lawyer.
Allegations against Sikhala arose during Ali’s tense funeral wake in her Nyatsime home area when Sikhala used his social media handles to keep the public informed about events around the situation.
Sikhala was arrested days later on allegations of inciting the public to avenge Ali’s death.
Trial finally opened Tuesday before Harare magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa with the Zengeza West MP denying the allegations.
Sikhala, through his lawyers Jeremiah Bamu and Advocate Harrison Nkomo, requested his trial to be live-streamed before tendering his defence outline.
In buttressing his request, Bamu submitted that people around the world had interest in following the prominent politician’s prosecution.
He also told court that this would ensure transparency considering the attention the matter has drawn internationally.
“The trial is meant to vindicate the interests of society as a whole,” he said.
“These are criminal proceedings and therefore a wrong against society. As such, the society has an entrenched interest.
“There is a limitation as to the number of people who can be present physically.
“Each time he is in court, there are truckloads of anti-riot police present, clearly showing the level of public interest that the case holds.”
Bamu also said freedom of the media was a key factor.
“This matter has drawn intense public interest. As a result, the facilitating of media reporting becomes important.
“The live stream will allow close family members to follow proceedings. The request comes from the accused’s daughter who is attending university in Poland and his brother in the UK.
“There are also other members of the media – because of the limited space to sit – who cannot be physically present. On a number of occasions, the police also limit the number of journalists who can attend this particular court,” said the lawyer.
Bamu also members of Zengeza West constituency would also want to follow proceedings in real time.
“Having been elected by 16k from the constituency, they cannot all fit in the courtroom.
“It is also important for the court to note that the media has been covering the case through print but in today’s digital world, there is therefore no real reason or logic for the media to continue resorting to techniques of yesteryear. It enables more accurate reporting and little room for subjective commentary,” he said.
Appearing for the state, George Manokore opposed the application.
Manokore said the state would need time to go through the application before he fully responds.
Trial continues this Wednesday. – ZimLive