Magistrate recuses himself from Sikhala bail hearing after bias protest

HARARE – Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna on Monday recused himself from hearing Job Sikhala’s bail application following his arrest accused of defeating the course of justice.

The Zengeza West MP filed an application for Nduna’s recusal, arguing that he could be biased after he denied him bail in a similar case before.

Sikhala, through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Jeremiah Bamu, also complained that his case was unreasonably placed before an anti-corruption court when it had nothing to do with corruption. His lawyers say the court is notorious for denying bail to rights activists.

The magistrate allowed the case to be heard before a proper court and before another magistrate on Tuesday.

Nduna insisted that there were no compelling reasons offered by Sikhala for his recusal, but granted the application anyway, he said in the interests of justice.

“It’s my view that the circumstances of this case demand that it appears before another court where the accused and the State can fight it out from an equal footing,” said Nduna.

“It would be a breach of the constitution to put the accused person in a desperate situation where he will see no reason for fighting out with full effort against the State. It is this last aspect which persuades me to let the matter pass and let it go before another court, accordingly the prayer for recusal is granted.”

Sikhala is accused of misleading police officers investigating the May 24 disappearance of Moreblessing Ali, a Citizens Coalition for Change activist later found murdered. Prosecutors say Sikhala was filmed claiming that Ali had been killed by Zanu PF supporters, this allegedly with an intention to misdirect # police investigations.

Sikhala is currently in remand prison, held without bail after he was arrested in June accused of inciting public violence by allegedly posting the same videos online.

His lawyers argue that there was an unnecessary splitting of charges by the prosecution.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!