Judge dismisses Sikhala, Sithole bail appeal

HARARE – High Court judge Lucy Mungwari has dismissed an appeal by Incarcerated Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole against denial of bail by the Harare Magistrates’ Court.

The lawmakers were arrested 14 June this year and slapped with incitement to public violence charges.

The State claims Sikhala appeared on a social media video urging revenge for CCC activist Moreblessing Ali’s abduction and gruesome murder allegedly by persons lined to Zanu PF in Nyatsime area May this year.

They deny the allegations.

Deputy chief magistrate Gibson Mandaza, who had presided over their earlier bail bid in the lower court, had ruled that the two could commit similar offences if granted their freedom.

He also ruled that the two were men of means who could incite the public again.

Prosecutors further claim the MPs did not respect previous court orders related to similar offences and therefore deserved their continued incarceration.

This prompted their appeal at the High Court, an application that has also met the same fate.

In his submissions before Justice Mungwari, Alec Muchadehama, representing the pair, said Sikhala had no single conviction on public violence charges and therefore, the state’s contention should not be considered.

“The State’s reason in denying Sikhala and Sithole bail was that they were likely to jeopardise public safety but this is being said without any evidence.

“These are just unsubstantiated reasons not supported by any evidence,” he said.

Muchadehama further denied claims his clients had no respect for court orders.

He said there was not evidence either linking Sithole to the alleged offence.

“There is no evidence that Sithole communicated with anyone. They said he went around mobilising people but there is no evidence that he did so,” he said.

T Mapfuwa prosecuted.

Speaking to journalists soon after the ruling, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the party officials deserved their freedom as was guaranteed by the national constitution which upholds the doctrine of innocence until proven guilty.

“We obviously respect the court ruling but we insist that in terms of the constitution, both these honourable members of parliament remain innocent until proven guilty; none of them has any conviction for any offences related to public violence or public disorder and so we insist that the constitution being supreme, presumes them innocent until proven guilty that same constitution also makes bail a constitutional entitlement.

“So we have spoken to the lawyers of honourable Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole and they are going to take steps to secure their position and secure remedies for them with regards to the court’s judgement which we obviously respect.”

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