Court throws out Sikhala application to have trial live-streamed

HARARE – A court on Monday threw out an application by Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala to have his trial live-streamed, citing lack of “immense public interest.”

Sikhala, who is being held without bail since June 16 last year, is being tried for incitement to commit public violence and obstructing the course of justice.

The lawmaker last week made the application for his trial to be live-streamed, citing public interest.

Harare magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa turned down the application.

“Live-streaming can only be done where there is immense public interest and not as in this case where there is a private concern,” Gofa ruled.

“Although he is a Member of Parliament representing about 16,000 people, that does not necessarily make it vital to have his trial live-streamed.”

The magistrate said Sikhala’s trial would be held in an open court and everyone was welcome. She also said there was never a time when reporters were barred from following proceedings.

Sikhala had argued that some of his children were abroad and would want to follow proceedings virtually. He also told the court that a heavy police presence whenever he attended court was confirmation that his matter was important.

The trial was set to start but was moved to January 20 after his lawyer Harrison Nkomo told the court that Sikhala had been diagnosed with a stomach illness and doctors had recommended that he takes a two-week break from court.

Sikhala was arrested with 15 others accused of playing a role in violent clashes that took place in Nyatsime, near Chitungwiza, during a memorial service for Moreblessing Ali, a Citizens Coalition for Change activist allegedly murdered and dismembered by the brother of the local Zanu PF chairman.

He also faces a charge of obstructing justice for allegedly making public statements which prosecutors claim were aimed at misleading the police investigators.

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