Sikhala renews bid for elusive freedom in fresh bail application

HARARE – Tormented Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator, Job Sikhala, who has endured a lengthy pre-trial detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, was back again Monday to apply for bail again citing changed circumstances.

This comes after the lawmaker’s several bail requests have been turned down by both the magistrates and the High Court since his arrest in June this year.

He is accused of inciting public violence during slain CCC activist Moreblessing Ali’s tense funeral wake in Nyatsime, just outside Chitungwiza in June.

Sikhala denies the allegations.

Court is expected to hand down its ruling on his latest request on Wednesday.

Through his lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Sikhala said the courts should set him free because his co-accused Godfrey Sithole was granted bail recently.

“His co-accused was admitted to bail by this court and secondly, 14 accused persons who are said to be his co-perpetrators have been admitted to bail by the High Court.”

He added, “There has been a considerable lapse of time since the accused was incarcerated.”

“Investigations have as a matter of fact been completed.

“All considerations pertaining any fear have been impeded,” he said.

Mpofu also said the identity and nature of the witnesses is now known and there was no way Sikhala would interfere with them if granted bail.

“Two are police officers and one is a civilian with no relationship with the accused. The dockets have been completed; the matter is ripe for trial and that is a factor that has not been in existence,” said the lawyer.

Mpofu also told court that the situation in the Nyatsime area has since calmed down so there is no need to keep Sikhala locked up.

“The state has taken a full position on its charge. The six months that he has spent in custody amounts in the order of things to anticipate re-punishment, the fact is illuminated by his continued detention.

“The state contends that the original denial of bail was based on the existence of an order which he violated. The position taken by the State in that respect is clearly wrong. The correct position is the conditions are not involved in this matter.”

In his previous bail order, Sikhala was given instructions not to address a WhatsApp or a virtual meeting or gathering.

Mpofu said his client never breached that order.

He said the charge comes from a video that was posted by a local online tabloid and not Sikhala.

Mpofu said Sikhala promised spiritual eradication of a family whose member had killed Moreblessing Ali.

“The circumstances relied upon by the State do not show incitement of the masses. In fact there is only one statement from the papers we have just received.

“Two police officers (witnesses) also do not contend that he said anything. There is nothing in the charge that relates to the accused.

“The order was not breached. Therefore the order is not superfluous and the correct position is that it has not been breached.”

Mpofu said there is no evidence before the court that shows Sikhala posted any video on social media.

“The state says it downloaded a video from the ZimLive web site. That is no social media and it is not the accused posting.”

In response, prosecutor George Manokore said it was not logical for the court to review its own ruling and nothing had changed.

“I would like the court to appreciate that wrong or right, there is a factual finding made by the magistrate. Legally, it’s you who said…He (Sikhala) breached the condition and that’s it. They ought to appeal that ruling, that’s the only remedy.

“I would like to believe under such circumstances, the accused should approach a superior court if they are not satisfied. You cannot review your own decision.

“Bail on changed circumstances should demonstrate the change which warrants review. The defence said there’s no allegation but the body of the charge speaks for itself. That submission will not hold water.

“The court should not base its ruling on today’s submission.

“This court should consider all submissions from the inception of these proceedings,” he said.

Manokore said mere passage of time does not constitute changed circumstances.

He also said Sikhala would not have been placed on remand if there was no nexus between the charge and the outline.

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