By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
Arrested MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala who is facing charges of allegations of “communicating falsehoods” came to court on Monday with his suitcase, prepared to be remanded into custody.
The outspoken opposition official made his initial appearance before Regional Magistrate Ngoni Nduna who remanded him in custody to tomorrow (Tuesday).
Sikhala was arrested Saturday last week while representing incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who is also facing same charges of allegations communicating falsehoods that a Harare based police officer reportedly killed a baby while attempting to beat the child’s mother with a button stick.
Magistrate Lazini Ncube rolled over the matter today in order for him to get enough time to go through the first leg of the submissions made by Harrison Nkomo, Chin’ono’s lawyer.
However, there was dramatic activity at the Rotten Row Magistrates Court in the morning when Sikhala arrived for initial remand carrying his suitcase. It showed that the Zengeza West legislator was sure that the country courts were going to place him on remand.
During its submissions, the State represented by Public Prosecutor, Nancy Chandakaona applied for Sikhala to be placed on remand.
His lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu however, told the court that “Sikhala’s arrest was callous and motivated by unbridled malice by the police.”
“They improperly exercised discretion in arresting him, violating section 49 of the Constitution. This has a chilling effect of undermining and threatening the legal fraternity
“On Saturday Sikhala was part of Hopewell Chin’ono’s legal team and presented himself at CID Law and Order who showed no interest in arresting him.
“He also attended the court proceedings only to be arrested while he was trying to get further instructions from Chin’ono at the court’s holding cells. That was callous, despite the fact that police have discretion in the way they arrest,” Bhamu said.
Meanwhile, opposition MDC Alliance national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere was also arrested Monday by police over the same case. The MDC Alliance issued a statement condemning the “abuse” of Chin’ono and other opposition officials.
“MDC Alliance strongly condemns the continued abuse of national justice institutions through the arrests of Vice Chairman Hon. Job Sikhala, Party Spokesperson Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, Harare Mayor His Worship Jacob Mafume, investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, student leader Allan Moyo and wrongly convicted prisoners: Last Maingehama and Tungamirirai Madzokere together with other political prisoners who are continuously being persecuted by the State.
“The Zanu PF government is abusing state institutions by continuously persecuting opposition leaders and human rights defenders. We reiterate the people’s President Advocate Nelson Chamisa’s sentiments that the arrest pertaining to non existing crimes represents dictatorial rule,severe abuse of power and an attack on the rule of law. Persecution through prosecution reflects authoritarian consolidation rather than democratization.
“We have also noted with concern the denial of the Constitutionally guaranteed right to health for His Worship Mayor Mafume who is reportedly ill and is deliberately exposed to environments fertile for contracting the deadly coronavirus.
“Mayor Jacob Mafume deserves both his right to bail and right to access proper medical assistance with immediate effect,” MDC Alliance Deputy National Secretary for Communications Clifford Hlatywayo said.
“It must be highlighted that this recent spate of arrests targeting Hon. Job Sikhala, Advocate Fadzayi Mahere and Hopewell Chin’ono is illegal as is it premised on charges that were long declared unconstitutional by the highest court in Zimbabwe. It is pure law-fare targeted to terminally bleed the democratic contingent considered to be holding different views from ZANU PF.
“Solidarity is a critical pillar of the MDC Alliance as a social democratic party and we shall pursue democratic and constitutional channels to show that people power is stronger than the people in power in demand for freedom for all prisoners of conscience.” Nehanda Radio