By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
Alpha Media Holdings chairperson Trevor Ncube has condemned the “abuse of power” by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime following the arrest and detention of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and MDC Alliance officials Job Sikhala and Fadzayi Mahere who are being charged with a “non-existent law.”
The trio was arrested and jointly charged over allegations of communicating falsehoods that a Harare based police officer reportedly killed a baby while attempting to beat the child’s mother with a baton stick. Ncube condemned the arrest of Chin’ono, Sikhala and Mahere.
“That the three have been charged under a law that was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2014 makes the violation of their rights to free speech even more pernicious. The words of Chief Justice Malaba are worth repeating:
“Government is prohibited from appointing itself as a monitor of truth for the people.” Muzzling those who call for state accountability is a cynical abuse of power,” Ncube said.
Ncube said what needed urgent attention are growing cases of police brutality.
The trio’s lawyers have also told the court that the law that they are being charged with, section Section 31 (a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) was struck off the constitution in 2014.
Nevertheless, Chin’ono has already been denied bail after regional magistrate Lazini Ncube argued that the investigative journalist had a propensity to commit crimes.
“The 22 July 2014 Constitutional Court judgment of Constantine Chimakure and two others versus the Attorney General should be considered. The question that should be answered is, what is the legal effect of a statutory provision struck out by the Constitutional Court?
“If the statute is unconstitutional, it can not be used to give a right of action,” Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu told magistrate Ngoni Nduna while applying against placement on behalf of his client.
He added, “an act which violates a Constitution has no power and can of course neither build up or tear down. It is an empty legislation without force.
“It is unlawful to charge Sikhala under that order. It was struck out and can never see the light of day. Section 70(1)(k) of the Constitution must be considered. Part 4 of the Sixth Schedule under section 10 of the same Constitution is also of vital importance
“Section 31 (a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act can never see the light of day. The State has placed a nullity before the court.”
Magistrate Trynos Utahwashe will also hand down a ruling Friday, on whether or not to place Mahere on remand. Nehanda Radio