By Tendai Kamhungira
HARARE – A Harare magistrate has freed MDC99 president Job Sikhala after a state witness failed to appear in court to testify against the politician who was facing rape and theft charges.
Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya freed Sikhala after prosecutor Kudzai Chigwedere applied for the postponement of the case, in order to give her time to secure the attendance of her witness who is in South Africa.
Sikhala was accused of raping and stealing from the South African woman whom he was once accused of bringing into the country illegally, before the court acquitted him of the charges in April this year.
The trial was supposed to start on Tuesday but Chigwedere told the court she was making arrangements to have her witness brought back into the country after she was deported to South Africa on June 2 this year. However, Sikhala could have none of it and demanded that he must be tried or freed pending the state’s arrangements to bring the witness.
He told the court the witness had been in custody since December last year and finished serving her sentence in February this year, but the police had kept her until this month in order for her to testify against him, only to deport her before the commencement of the trial.
“The investigating officer knew of this trial date but he assisted the complainant to leave the country. The state must understand that this is not a remand court but a trial court and I demand trial today, failure of which the court should refuse further remand,” Sikhala said.
The 39-year-old politician had been accused of raping and stealing from the South African woman when he had visited that country to source for donations and financial assistance for his party. The State alleged Sikhala had illegally brought the woman into the country where upon arrival, they stayed at his house in Chitungwiza.
Sikhala asked to go out with the woman for a drink in July last year, the court was told. While in the bar, the court heard how Sikhala told the woman that he had never been intimate with a white woman, before he started fondling her breasts. After a week, Sikhala allegedly took the woman to a lodge on the pretext he wanted to see a certain person.
The outspoken politician allegedly had sexual intercourse with the woman for the first time before repeating the act at the same lodge. He gave the woman $5, it was alleged. He allegedly had sexual intercourse with the woman on several occasions especially on Sundays when his wife and children would have left home for church services.
It is alleged the woman fell pregnant after a couple of months but suffered a miscarriage. She managed to run away in December last year and sought refuge at a friend’s place, before she got arrested by immigration officials during the same month.
She reported the rape and theft while serving a jail term for being in the country without a permit. Sikhala is also accused of stealing the woman’s clothes valued at R22 000. Daily News
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