MDC 99 President Job Sikhala was Tuesday taken off remand after his trial for rape failed to begin at the Harare Magistrate’s Courts because the complainant has returned to South Africa.
Prosecutors said they could not proceed with the trial as their witness and complainant, Sharon Bester, was in South Africa, having left Zimbabwe on June 2.
But applying for refusal of further remand, a fuming Sikhala said he was being needlessly inconvenienced by the State's bungling of the case.
“How and why did the state release the complainant when they knew that today was the trial date? I was almost denied by the state attendance of a business meeting in Uganda ‘because they feared I would default’ so it is very surprising that today they actually want to postpone the trial”, he charged.
“Right now the state has no idea where she stays in South Africa. How ridiculous is that?
“I know that the state is just trying to stifle my movements by keeping me on remand which means I still have to report to the police once a week and my travelling documents are once again with the state after my return from Uganda”.
“I have intimated in the past that this is just a set up to derail me and frustrate me because clearly the state is clueless of how to go about a trial they know is fictitious.
“It came from someone’s imagination and now a grown man like me has to leave important business concerning my party to be here in court answering a silly trial which is going nowhere.”
The magistrate granted the application for refusal of remand and ruled that, when ready, the state would proceed by way of summons.
Sikhala declared he was innocent after the ruling.
“Justice has prevailed today and it will prevail then when they decide to call me back. I’ m always ready for them because I know I’m innocent,” he said.
The MDC 99 leader is charged with several counts of rape and one of theft.
Prosecutors claim Sikhala met the woman in South Africa last June while raising funds for his party and offered her a job as his personal assistant. Bester then moved to Zimbabwe and stayed at Sikhala’s home in St Mary’s over several weeks.
Some time in July Sikhala is alleged to have taken the woman out for a drink at a sports bar and when they returned to the car to leave, he allegedly put his hand on her lap and told her he had never had sex with a white woman, and wondered what it would be like.
She told investigators she rebuffed his advances.
On a separate occasion, he allegedly left home with her stating they were going on a business trip. Instead, he drove to a Harare lodge where she alleges he forced himself on her.
The attacks became more frequent, usually on Sundays, when his wives were in church, it is alleged.
The woman told investigators she was too scared to report the abuse after Sikhala threatened to call the police on her because she had entered the country illegally without a passport.
Prosecutors say Sikhala’s accuser fell pregnant but later miscarried.