By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
Police on Saturday arrested MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala while he was representing incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
The award-winning journalist was arrested again Friday and charged with communicating falsehoods that a Harare based police officer reportedly killed a baby while attempting to beat the child’s mother with a button stick.
The same charges have, according to Jeremiah Bhamu, one of Chin’ono’s lawyers been conferred on Sikhala.
Chin’ono appeared before magistrate Lazini Ncube who rolled the matter to Monday citing the Covid-19 related curfew.
The State is being represented by prosecutor Nyamutowa while his lead counsel is Advocate Harrison Nkomo assisted by Gift Mtisi, Jeremiah Bamu, Job Sikhala and T. Saurombe.
The State applied for Chin’ono to be placed on remand and opposed granting of bail on the grounds raised by his defence that he is a danger to everyone as he was exposed to Covid-19.
“He has to undergo relevant tests,” the State said.
Nkomo, Chin’ono’s lead lawyer, told the court the accused needed to be on self quarantine because he had traveled to South Africa recently.
“He was recently in South Africa and upon return he was informed that two people he had contact with there had tested positive for Covid-19.
“His doctor advised him to isolate in quarantine and undergo tests,” he said.
“We sit in this courtroom without the official status of the accused person. We’re exposed to this deadly disease. The inmates that he spent a night with, God knows their status now.”
Magistrate Lazini however, resolved that it was in the best interest of the State and other prisoners that Chin’ono be quarantined in a cell of his own and be provided with warm water. He is also said he should be transported to remand prison in a separate vehicle from other inmates.
Meanwhile, Sikhala is expected to appear in court Monday for initial remand.
Addressing journalists soon after court proceedings, Bhamu said he had been instructed that one of Chin’ono’s lawyers, Sikhala was being arrested for a similar charge. He said they were taking him to the police law and order.
“What we have been instructed by one of Hopewell Chin’ono’s lawyer, Job Sikhala there is an instruction that he be arrested on similar charges. So we are taking him now to the police station,” he said.
Chin’ono who recently exposed alleged corruption involving President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins, in the Covidgate scandal was initially arrested on 20 July last year after being charged with inciting violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
He was arrested together with opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume. They spent 45 days at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison before being released on bail by the High Court in Harare.
Sikhala was also arrested for the same charge and he was released on bail by the High Court after five weeks.
Chin’ono was arrested again after tweeting that a State prosecutor in the case of a gold smuggler, Henrietta Rushwaya who was arrested after being caught trying to smuggle 6.09kgs of gold to Dubai would consent to bail.
He was charged with undermining the course of justice. Meanwhile, in just six months, Chin’ono is being arrested for the third time while for Sikhala it is the second time for tweets. Nehanda Radio