By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi has granted Z$25 000 to opposition MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala who has had to endure over 25 days of “pre-trial incarceration”.
Sikhala is jointly charged with MDC Alliance national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono 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.
The Zengeza West MP is represented by Harrison Nkomo and Jeremiah Bhamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. In granting bail to Sikhala, Justice Chitapi slammed Magistrate Ngoni Nduna for denying bail based on the view that the accused had a propensity to commit an offense.
Nduna had cited that Sikhala boasted that he had been arrested 65 times hence he had a “repetitive deposition to commit offenses.”
But Justice Chitapi noted that the outspoken opposition official had not been convicted of any case and he could not be addressed as a serial offender.
“The specific grounds on which one is denied bail must be established.
“The regional magistrate made a general finding that the applicant was likely to commit another offense while on bail without establishing the offense.
“The boasting of 65 arrests was nothing but a boast,” he said.
Justice Chitapi boldly added that, “It is not the function of the court to act as an extension of the police to punish the applicant.
“The regional magistrate appeared to be offended by the accused, saying he was arrested 65 times.”
As bail conditions, Justice Chitapi ordered Sikhala to deposit Z$25 000 at the Clerk of Court, reside at his given address, report once a week at St Mary’s Police Station and not to interfere with witnesses.
Mahere has since been granted bail by Harare regional magistrate Lazini Ncube. But Sikhala and Chin’ono were denied bail and had to approach the High Court in their bid for freedom.
Chin’ono, Sikhala and opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume were detained last year ahead of banned anti-corruption protests they backed through their Twitter accounts. They were charged with inciting public violence and released on bail one month later. Nehanda Radio