Journalist-cum political activist Hopewell Chin'ono's bid for freedom hit a brick wall yesterday after the High Court threw out his appeal for bail on the basis that the trial magistrate's decision was properly made.
Chin'ono was seeking bail pending trial on charges of incitement to commit public violence following the refusal of bail by regional magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna, on the basis that he had shown defiance in the face of the State banning protests.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi upheld the decision of the trial magistrate saying the High Court could only interfere where a misdirection has been committed and in this case the lower court decision cannot be disturbed.
"In disposing of the matter, I determine that the appellant (Chin'ono) has failed to demonstrate any misdirection of fact, law or both made by the learned magistrate in the court a quo (lower court) as would justify interference with his judgment," he said.
"In consequence therefore, the order I make is as follows . . .The appeal be and it is hereby dismissed."
Though the prosecution during the bail hearing in the lower court offered four grounds why Chin'ono should be denied the relief he sought, the magistrate dismissed all the grounds, but held one that the accused had not yet accomplished his mission as the protests were pencilled for July 31, 2020 which was a date to materialise.
He said his release might enable him to continue with his campaign as there was no condition discernible capable of restraining him if he granted bail.
In this regard, Justice Chitapi said the magistrate would not have been reasonably expected to impose conditions not suggested to him let alone given the circumstances of the case where Chin'ono's position was to defy authority on the basis that there was nothing wrong with his tweets and that he was within his rights to broadcast them.
"The attitude of the appellant was therefore one of defiance of State authority on the basis of a claim of right," he said.
"In such circumstances the learned magistrate cannot be faulted in his reasoning."
It was also the court's finding that the magistrate reasoned well that the mood and intention of Chin'ono in composing and broadcasting the tweets was to incite protests which were not peaceful.