Sikhala trial in false start

Source: Sikhala trial in false start | Herald (Crime)

Job Sikhala

Senior Court Reporter
The trial of CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole on charges of inciting public violence in Nyatsime in June was supposed to open yesterday, but both sought a postponement.

Sikhala said he wanted to file a pair of applications to have the charges dropped and be given bail, and Sithole because his lawyer wanted to watch a video given to him by the State.

The State consented to the postponement for the purposes the defence lawyers gave, so Harare magistrate Mrs Tafadzwa Miti set Friday this week as the day for Sikhala to mount his applications for an exception to the charges, the technical term to have the charges dropped, and for bail on changed circumstances. Sithole was granted  $300 000 bail in his latest application last week after finally showing there were changed circumstances.

Mrs Miti has now set Thursday next week as the start of the trial should the application for exception be rejected. This gives her time to consider Sikhala’s applications and make a ruling before that day.

Sikhala and Sithole have separate legal teams although are being charged jointly.

After Mr Jeremiah Bamu and Mr Doug Coltart, who represent Sikhala, told the court that they wanted to file the two applications, Mr Oliver Marwa, who represented Sithole, sought a postponement saying he needed to watch an evidence video and receive further instructions from his client.

The State led by Mr George Manokore and Mr Zabadiah Bofu consented to the postponement.

Sikhala and Sithole were not asked to plead to the charges when they initially appeared in court in June soon after the violence that left buildings and vehicles damaged across Nyatsime.

They are alleged to have posted videos considered an incitement to violence and  then hired lorries to ferry people to Nyatsime, following the kidnapping and killing of Ms Moreblessing Ali by a former boyfriend, who is now in custody awaiting his trial for murder.

Sikhala and Sithole have been fighting legal battles since their arrest.

They first challenged their prosecution in Harare Magistrates Court, arguing that the alleged offence was not committed in Harare, but in Chitungwiza, and that further the prosecution should not be in any special court, but in any court in Mashonaland East.

The court ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear their case.

Sikhala and Sithole then mounted several bail applications, both at the magistrates court and the High Court, which were all unsuccessful until last week when Sithole was granted $300 000 bail after the magistrate found that changed circumstances did apply.

According to the State, 20 families were left homeless in the violence, with 13 shops, six tuck-shops and vehicles severely damaged after CCC supporters ran amok, indiscriminately attacking residents of Nyatsime at the instigation of Sikhala and Sithole.

A gazebo at the shopping centre was also torched, allegedly by the violent supporters.

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