Sikhala and Sithole challenge jurisdiction as duo appears in Harare anti-corruption court

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By Mary Taruvinga,  Senior Reporter

CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Karakadzai Sithole arrested Wednesday on allegations of inciting public violence are challenging the jurisdiction of their court case.

The two appeared before the deputy chief magistrate Godfrey Mandaza in an anti-corruption court.

Through their lawyer Jeremiah Bamu who is being assisted by Alec Muchadehama the two said Mandaza had no authority to hear  their case because allegations arose in Nyatsime, Mashonaland East province.

They also said cases of incitement to commit violence should be heard before an ordinary magistrate not a special court.

“The two have instructed me to object to the jurisdiction of this court on two primary grounds, that it is an anti-corruption court.

“It deals with matters like bribery and corruption.

“It is not designed and has not been granted the jurisdiction to deal with other criminal matters.”

Bamu said the defence asked the State for an explanation but did not get any response.

“For NPA to place this case in an anti-corruption court without explaining why it shouldn’t be in the magistrate court gives the accused the right to object.

“There is no special reason why the accused were made to appear in Harare,” said Bamu.

“The State deliberately avoided court in Mashonaland East and ordinary magistrates  court and resorted to an anticorruption court for no reason but forum shopping,” he said.

Bamu also said special arrangements had to be made for his clients’ record to be opened after the official time set, which raises suspicions.

In response prosecutor Michael Reza said these procedures are simply for placement on remand as such any court could deal with that process.

He said objection falls away because the two will not be tried in the same court.

Reza said the defence know that Chitungwiza falls under the Northern Region as such even a case which happened in Mutare can be heard in Harare.

“There are many records which have been opened even after 4 pm so there is nothing unusual or illegal,” said Reza.

The magistrate ruled that the two are properly before him as any regional case can be heard in any regional court.