Job Sikhala remanded in custody

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By Mary Taruvinga

MDC top politician and legislator Job Sikhala was Saturday remanded to Monday after his initial court appearance for allegedly inciting the public to commit violence.

Sikhala was arrested on Friday after police had indicated they were keen to quiz him for his role in what were planned anti-government demonstrations on July 31.

The firebrand activist appeared before Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube on Saturday and was not asked to plead.

He was brought to court around 9 am accompanied by over a dozen of police officers who arrested his other lawyer Jeremiah Bamu over unclear reasons before they released the lawyer without a charge.

His case only started at 4 pm after he spent the day seated in court corridors awaiting his appearance.

Sikhala is being represented by Advocate Eric T Matinenga who is taking instructions from lawyers, Bamu and Harrison Nkomo.

Matinenga said his client had no complaints against the police.

“Let me commend Detective Assistant Inspector Mukova for personally calling me, Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu when he was arrested,” he said.

Matinenga said even the arresting details were polite with his client.

He however said it was “tormenting” to be kept waiting the entire day with no sign of progress although the state was frank with them that its house was not in order.

“Your worship, I want it to be placed on record…the trials and tribulations we ensured before the court finally sat at 4:04 pm,” Matinenga said.

The prosecutor said, “We also wanted a situation where we would be in court with the accused earlier but it was impossible.”

He also submitted that the state was still within the confines of the law regarding Sikhala’s appearance in court.

“This was done to make sure justice is done for the case,” he said.

The state applied for Sikhala to be placed on remand and said bail was opposed.

He said during the period stretching from March 2020, Sikhala called for people to demonstrate against the government on July 31 2020 saying “there is a war we should fight and if we don’t fight, nothing will come out…I will fight the state since I’m not easily intimidated,”

The declarations, according to the state were made by Sikhala on his social media handles.

He said there was reasonable suspicion Sikhala committed an offence.

“Certainty as to facts is not working considered because it will cease to be a suspicion. We are not at that stage. We will get there. What we want to place before the court are reasonable suspicions,” he said.

Matinenga challenged placement of Sikhala on remand.

“We will need to have sight of the alleged videos in order to cross examine the Investigating officer. Still the state has not made the videos available,” he said.

He also argued that every person had a right to demonstrate, freedom of association and expression.

“The state must establish that what the accused has said amounts to an illegality. The allegations fall within he provisions of Section 59 of the Constitution. So there can be no incitement of an illegal activity,” he said.

“Mr Sikhala’s utterances have not amounted to a criminal offence.”

Bail application starts Monday.