Sikhala is persecuted, says his lawyer

Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said yesterday that the endless arrests, without conviction, of Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala (Citizens’ Coalition for Change, CCC) was a clear case of political persecution.

Mtetwa was responding to police opposing Sikhala’s bail request, saying he had shown a propensity to commit a crime.

But Mtetwa said Sikhala had been arrested a record 67 times, but had never been sentenced.

“The defendant was arrested 67 times, but he was never convicted and many cases failed before they came to trial. The investigator cannot say he had a propensity, but they have a propensity to arrest the accused,” Mtetwa said.

“He couldn’t obstruct the investigation because he was in police custody. You want to overturn his right because you keep saying he has a case going on that you don’t want not judge him.”

Sikhala was arrested alongside Chitungwiza North lawmaker Godfrey Sithole (CCC) last month for inciting violence following skirmishes at the funeral of slain opposition activist Moreblessing Ali.

Sikhala faces another obstruction of justice charge after allegedly accusing Zanu-PF of Ali’s murder.

But Mtetwa said Sikhala was appointed Ali’s family attorney and addressed the mourners at the funeral as per his mandate.

“Did bail say not to go to the mourners? The objection to bail in this case is completely baseless. It’s malicious and designed to keep him in custody because you know that charges will not convict him,” Mtetwa said.

Sikhala appeared before Magistrate Stanford Mambanje, who denied his request to deny pre-trial detention.

The magistrate said the state demonstrated a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had committed an offence.

The case has been adjourned to today for further defense submissions.

In an unrelated incident, the appeal of jailed former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines, Francis Gudyanga, was postponed until July 27 after he indicated his intention to strengthen his appeal.

He was due to appear before the High Court Judge, Judge Benjamin Chikowero. Gudyanga is serving a two and a half year sentence for abusing his position as a public officer.

He was in February this year caged for four years by Harare Magistrate Barbara Chimboza, who suspended part of his sentence on the condition that he reinstate the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) of $25,228.

He was convicted of fraud after receiving $28,910 in MMCZ board member dues for three years despite his absence.

Gudyanga was charged alongside former mines minister Walter Chidakwa, who was however acquitted in the state case.

Jon J. Epps