Zimbabwe: Sikhala, Sithole in Court Over Violence

TWO CCC legislators, Job Sikhala and Godfrey Karakadzai Sithole yesterday failed to block their case from prosecution after they appeared in court for allegedly inciting their followers to cause violence that rocked Nyatsime, early this week.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mr Felix Mandaza ruled that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Zengeza West legislator Sikhala and his Chitungwiza North counterpart Sithole were yesterday charged with incitement to commit public violence.

Sikhala and Sithole are alleged to have posted videos and hired lorries to ferry people to go and cause violence in Nyatsime, following the death of Moreblessing Ali, whom they claim to be one of their opposition party supporters.

Through their lawyers Mr Jeremiah Bamu and Mr Alec Muchadehama, the duo challenged prosecution at Harare Magistrates Court arguing that the alleged offence was not committed in Harare.

They also argued that they were not supposed to be prosecuted in a special court, but were supposed to have been taken to any other court in Mashonaland East province where they claim, the said offence occurred.

The two claimed that their right to a fair hearing was compromised by the State's decision to prosecute them in Harare and in a special court, which they said was created to deal with corruption-related cases.

The State led by Mr Michael Reza, in his response, told the court that there was nothing sinister in the two being prosecuted at the Harare Magistrates Court, as it also falls in the same judicial region with the court they wanted to be referred to.

"These procedures are simply for placement on remand. His concerns would have been valid if this was a trial.

"It was when such questions maybe asked.

"Chitungwiza falls under northern region even cases in Mutare can be heard in Harare," he said.

In their attempt to have the matter heard away from Harare Magistrates Court, Sikhala and Sithole, through Mr Bamu said:

"You have been constituted as an Anti-Corruption Court. Anti-Corruption Court is a specialised court for issues relating to bribery and corruption. It is not designed and was not granted jurisdiction to deal with any other matters.

"If it were to have universal jurisdiction, then they will be no need for its establishment. The allegations occurred in Nyatsime, Beatrice.

"The place of occurrence is in a different province. Nyatsime falls under Mashonaland East province.

"There is no special reason why we have been made to appear in Harare province."

"Their right to fair hearing before a partial court has been compromised."

In his ruling Mr Mandaza said the proceedings were only for remand purposes and the court has a jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Mr Mandaza said Chitungwiza and Harare Magistrates Court fall under the same region according to statutes.

After successfully placing Sikhala and Sithole on remand, Mr Reza indicated that they will oppose granting of bail to the two when they return to court today.

Mr Bamu indicated that they will challenge Sikhala and Sithole's placement on remand on their next remand date.

He said they were not given ample time to decide on whether to challenge their placement on remand after they received State papers a few minute of appearing in court.

Mr Bamu demanded that the State gives them a video which the State alleges Sikhala used to incite violence on social media and details of lorries that Sithole allegedly hired to ferry people to Nyatsime.

He said they want to use them to mount their application challenging their placement on remand.

Sikhala and Sithole also complained that they were denied access to food and medication while in police custody.

They said they were denied access to their legal practitioners and relatives.

Sikhala and Sithole are expected back in court today for bail application.

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