Sikhala wants ‘publishing falsehoods’ trial halted

HARARE – Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala has asked a court to halt his trial on charges of publishing falsehoods pending the outcome of his application to the High Court for a review.

Sikhala is accused of sharing a Twitter video which he allegedly said showed a police officer fatally beating a toddler with a baton stick in 2020.

Prosecutors say the child never died.

The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) deputy chairman is challenging the admissibility of a video that was tendered by prosecutors as an exhibit.

Sikhala argues, in his High Court application, that the video forming charges against him must be authenticated first before it can be accepted by the court.

His lawyer Jeremiah Bamu told the Harare Magistrates Court on Monday that the evidence should be authenticated by an expert in technology.

“The court needs to make a determination on the validity of the said exhibit. It is prudent to stay the proceedings until the determination of the application for review at the High Court,” Bhamu said.

“It is a challenge on the admissibility of the video. We need a witness who will give us their analysis of the authenticity of the video. The current witnesses cannot speak of the authenticity of the video and cannot say if the video is original. The other witnesses that we have are investigating officers and cannot speak of the authenticity required.”

Prosecutor Garudzo Ziyadhuma opposed the application saying they can only stop the trial if the defence produced an order of the High Court stopping the proceedings.

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was facing the same charge was acquitted after the High Court quashed the charge for being non-existent.

CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere is also being prosecuted for sharing the same video.

The presiding magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro postponed the matter to Thursday for ruling.

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