Sikhala’s bid to have magistrate removed from case fails; MP claims judicial officer biased

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By Staff reporter

DETAINED Citizens Coalition for Change legislator Job Sikhala failed Wednesday with a bid to have Harare regional magistrate Tafadzwa Miti removed from presiding over his case.

Through his lawyers, Sikhala had made the application out of frustration after being denied bail on changed circumstances.

The legislator has been denied bail more than ten times since his arrest in June on charges of inciting public violence which he denies.

“A judicial officer can be recused from a trial if there is a real likelihood of bias, in this case accused is not alleging any real case of bias. Therefore the application for my recusal is therefore dismissed,” a Harare court ruled Wednesday.

Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu however, made it clear that trial should not proceed as they needed to review the court’s ruling.

“I am constrained to seek a postponement of the matter, to enable the accused to make a review of a ruling made now.

“It is sought as a way to exercise accused right to a fair trial,” he said.

The case was then postponed to January next year.

Family spokesperson Freddy Masarirevu said the trial magistrate was biased, claiming he already concluded that Sikhala was guilty.

“There is a statement that was used in bail denial saying Honourable Sikhala was a unrepentant criminal; whilst up to now there is no magistrate who has proved him a criminal,” he said.

Meanwhile, defence attorneys for Sikhala’s co-accused Godfrey Sithole also a CCC legislator – told court they might apply for separation of trial if the postponements continued.

In response, Bamu said, “We have no problems with that, as the two did not commit the crime together.”