By Staff Reporter
HARARE magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa has ruled that Job Sikhala, currently locked up awaiting trial for inciting public violence, has a case to answer.
She was delivering judgement after the lawmaker applied for discharge at the close of the State’s representations.
The magistrate said evidence before her, so far, shows that the politician has some explaining to make.
Sikhala is charged with defeating the course of justice after he allegedly called for justice over the death of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali.
The State alleges that he interfered with the case since police were already investigating the murder.
“Court is of the view that circumstances (of the case) call for an answer from the accused person,” said the magistrate.
“First State witness disputed the accused’s alibi. Even the defence told court that the accused has one witness to the alibi issue in its supplementary outline who will give evidence in support of the accused during his defence case.
“This clearly shows that the defence knew that there is need for an answer from accused (when accused is put to his defence case).”
The magistrate continued; “Even defence indicated that accused will disprove issues raised by the third State witness (and this) cannot just be swept under the pillow when, clearly, accused should answer or reply to all these assertions raised by State.
“Furthermore, it cannot be said, at this juncture, that State’s evidence from its witnesses is manifestly unreliable as required by case law for it to be rejected outright.
“Court cannot, therefore, ignore all this evidence, for the evidence calls for an answer from accused person. Accordingly, court finds that there is a prima facie case against the accused which requires an answer.
“Application for discharge at the close of the state case in terms of section 198 ( Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9:07 be and is hereby dismissed. Accused is put to his defence case.”
Sikhala’s defence lawyer Harrison Nkomo said they will be filing an urgent appeal against the ruling at the High Court.
“Naturally, the accused is not happy with the outcome and does not agree with the magistrate. He has instructed us to file an application for a review of today’s judgement, ” said the lawyer.
Sikhala has been in jail since his arrest on June 14 last year with several efforts to secure conditional freedom pending trial being rejected by the courts.