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Job Sikhala ‘explodes’ in court as magistrate dismisses his application

Incarcerated opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) vice chairman Job Sikhala on Wednesday exploded in court and called-out Harare Magistrate Taurai Manuwere after she dismissed his application for the court to set timelines for the prosecution to furnish his defence team with State papers to prepare for his trial set for November 16.

The Zengeza West legislator who has been in jail for more than 90 days, is facing what his party has called trumped up charges of inciting public violence and obstructing the course justice.

He was arrested on 14 June together with CCC MP Godfrey Sithole and 16 residents of Nyatsime. They were accused of inciting public violence to avenge the murder of party activist Moreblessing Ali.

They were, however, denied bail several times on a controversial basis with magistrates and judges claiming that they had a propensity of committing similar offences.

Sikhala is represented by top human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

Magistrate Manuwere on Wednesday dismissed Sikhala’s application for the court to set timelines for the prosecution to furnish his defence team with State papers to prepare for his trial.

This prompted Sikhala to explode in court accusing the magistrate of bias and the court was adjourned.

The Human Rights NGO Forum, the organisation instructing his lawyers, confirmed the development in a statement.

“Sikhala described Manuwere as biased, threatening to apply for his recusal from his case,” read the statement.

“He accused Manuwere of reviewing a ruling by another magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka, who had ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence with papers by close of business on 18 August.

“But today, Manuwere refused to set timelines, saying his ruling was guided by Chakanyuka’s order which he said was open-ended.

“Beatrice Mtetwa, instructed by Human Rights NGO Forum and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to represent Sikhala, protested against the ruling, forcing the Zengeza MP to burst out in anger.

“Mtetwa said Chakanyuka’s order had a timeline of 18 August and therefore Manuwere’s ruling based on her ruling was faulty.”

Last week, the same magistrate dismissed an application by Mtetwa who wanted deputy Prosecuting General Michael Reza and his junior, Lancelot Mutsokoti to be arrested for contempt of court for disobeying Chakanyuka’s order.

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