HARARE – Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala was denied bail a sixth time on Wednesday after a Harare magistrate ruled there were no changed circumstances from the last time he was denied his freedom.
Sikhala, who is accused of obstructing justice for recording a video threatening the murderers of CCC activist Moreblessing Ali, told Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere that the public mood was that he should be released, citing an online petition signed by over 40,000 people.
Sikhala is represented by Jeremiah Bamu and Beatrice Mtetwa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Manuwere said public feelings had no bearing on bail. The magistrate said the defence had offered nothing to prove that Sikhala would not re-offend or abscond, which are the reasons bail was denied.
“The courts are independent. The constitution declares that in making a decision, a member of the judiciary may not be swayed by fear of criticism and must not be swayed by fear and partisan perceptions,” Manuwere ruled.
“I refuse to be swayed by public perception, opinion and the application is dismissed.”
Appearing for the prosecution, Lancelot Mutsokoti had said there was no reason for Sikhala to complain that his prosecution was taking long because investigations were almost complete.
Mutsokoti told court that much ground had been covered, which had seen Sikhala being given a trial date of November 21.
“It’s not the mere passage of time that warrants granting bail to an accused person,” the prosecutor argued. “Investigations are complete and applicant has been furnished with trial date and state papers. Clearly, there has been progress and nothing was placed on record that risk of absconding has been averted so the accused must remain in custody.”
Sikhala is accused of disturbing police investigations in the murder of Ali after he allegedly posted a video demanding justice for her murder.
He is also charged with inciting public violence under the same facts.
In the incitement case, he is jointly charged with Godfrey Sithole, the MP for Chitungwiza North, who is also being held without bail at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Sikhala and Sithole’s trial on the incitement charge is set to commence on November 15.