HARARE – Troubled Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator, Job Sikhala’s trial failed to start Monday after the jailed politician challenged charges laid against him which he argued they did not disclose an offence.
Sikhala pleaded not guilty to allegations of defeating the course of justice, telling court that he did not commit the offence as alleged by prosecutors.
The politician and lawyer said he was being persecuted for representing the family of slain CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.
Sikhala was arrested in June this year on allegations of posting a video demanding justice for Ali.
Using the same video footage, prosecutors also charged the brave politician for defeating the course of justice.
Sikhala argues there was an unnecessary split of charges; he prayed for his acquittal.
“The State cannot multiply charges for what in reality is one offence,” argued Jeremiah Bamu, lawyer for the embattled legislator.
“The accused will contend that the charge levelled against him does not disclose an offence in that the State only alleges that accused intended to mislead police investigations but does not allege that there was actual obstruction.
“There is nowhere in the alleged video where the accused is shown addressing or supplying any information to the police.
“There is nowhere in the alleged utterances where the police are requested to act on any information that was so supplied or address so made.
“The charge sheet does not allege that the police acted on that information, or how such information was acted upon. The charge sheet does not allege how acting upon such information obstructed their investigations.
Bamu added, “He did not circulate nor cause to be circulated any video as alleged. He will put the State to strict proof of these allegations.
“In the event that the State has no such proof, he will pray that these allegations be struck out from the charge sheet.
“He was not aware of any police investigations as alleged or at all. He was not aware that the police were on a manhunt for Pias Jamba as alleged or at all.”
Sikhala said he has not been furnished with the state outline as required by law.
“He has only been furnished with a flash disk containing one video clip. The video clip relates to the second portion of the transcript as appears on his warned and cautioned statement. He has not been furnished with any video clip or other evidence supporting the first portion of the transcript as appears on the warned and cautioned statement,” Bamu further argued.
While excepting to the charge, Bamu said Sikhala cannot be held responsible for how the police choose to conduct themselves on any given matter.
“Accused has no control over police conduct. The video furnished to the accused does not support the charge alleged against him. In the circumstances, the accused will pray that the exception be upheld and that he be found not guilty and acquitted,” said the lawyer.
Sikhala said he was not furnished with sufficient details as to enable him to answer to the charge as required by section 70 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
He also complained that he was not afforded adequate time and facilities to prepare his defence.
Magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa will hand down her ruling on the lawmaker’s application on December 13.