Judgement Reserved In Chin’ono Bail Appeal

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By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court judge David Foroma Thursday indefinitely reserved judgement on a bail appeal application lodged by freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

Chin’ono has been languishing in remand prison for two weeks after he was arrested for allegedly publishing falsehoods in a case involving a child who was initially said to have been struck and killed by a baton wielding Harare police officer who was enforcing the country’s lockdown regulations.

He was denied bail by Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube who ruled that he was likely to re-offend since he committed the offence while on bail for two other offences.

But the journalist maintains that Ncube misdirected himself in making that finding.

The state, led by Richard Chikosha argued that Chin’ono was in the habit of breaking the law via social media.

“The child in question is alive and his tweet intended to undermine public confidence in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). His defence did not challenge that,” the prosecutor.

“Evidence against the appellant is overwhelming. It is apparent that the alleged offence was committed whilst Chin’ono was on bail over two other criminal charges.

“The pending and current charges are similar in that they have to do with communication through social media thus proving propensity,” said Chikosha.

However, Chin’ono insisted that the charge preferred against him was struck off the national statutes and as such, he was unlawfully charged.

His lawyer Harrison Nkomo who is being assisted by Paida Saurombe and Jeremiah Bamu said the magistrate was wrong in denying his client bail relying on a non-existent charge.

“The court should consider whether the charge he is facing exists. In this case, it is non-existent, ” said Nkomo.

The law under which Chin’ono was charged was struck down by the Constitutional Court in the case of Constantine Munyaradzi Chimakure and others versus the Attorney General.

“If a Statutory provision is declared unconstitutional and struck off by the apex court, it is dead and should never see the light of day. As such, the magistrate denied him bail on a wrong finding,” said Nkomo.

Chin’ono was arrested at the same time with MDC Alliance officials Job Sikhala and Fadzai Mahere.

Sikhala is yet to appeal awaiting magistrate Ngoni Nduna to sign off his record.

Mahere, oh her part, was granted $10 000 bail by magistrate Trynos Utahwashe.