Friday, 28 August 2020

WHEN WE POUNCED ON SIKHALA : COPS


POLICE have released riveting details of how they allegedly arrested larger-than-life MDC Alliance deputy national chairperson Job “Wiwa” Sikhala last week, the Daily News reports.

Among other claims, law enforcement agents say the daring and heavily-built Zengeza West legislator was hiding in a ceiling at the house in Tynwald North — a western suburb of Harare — when they pounced on him.

However, Sikhala is disputing the narrative saying the ceiling could not support a man of his size had he attempted to hide in it.

Addressing a Harare magistrate during Sikhala’s bail hearing yesterday, detective constable Collin Makore from the CID Law and Order claimed that the burly lawyer-cum-politician only came down from the ceiling after police threatened to lob teargas at him.

This comes as Sikhala’s arrest has sent tongues wagging within opposition ranks, where accusations have been flying around furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.

Makore told the court that Sikhala’s arrest was coincidental, as police had besieged the house where he was hiding looking for its owner — Anderson Mundazi — after receiving information that there were petrol bombs and catapults there.

“We had a warrant to search the place after receiving information that there were machetes, catapults and petrol bombs being manufactured there.

“Our intention was not to arrest Sikhala, but we were targeting Anderson,” he said. 

Makore told the court that although they found nothing to this effect, it was when they were about to leave the house that they noticed some fresh footprints on the walls of the passage. 

Makore said he looked up and noticed a removed panel on the ceiling, whereupon he discovered that Sikhala was hiding inside.

“I noticed that the panel was removed and asked who was in there. I threatened to throw tear smoke inside and he responded, stopping me.

“When he saw me, he was happy and we embraced each other. He did not have a mask and I bought it for him, as well as water to drink.

“I even told him that he was not our mission, but I informed him that he was on the police wanted list and that I was taking him to the police station, and he complied,” Makore said. 

However, Sikhala’s lawyer Eric Matinenga disputed that his client’s arrest was coincidental, adding that he had been arrested by 15 armed policemen. 

Makore told the court that as a cop, he could not let Sikhala go free — as he knew that he was on the police wanted list.
  
Asked if Sikhala could evade trial if he was granted bail, especially having been previously bailed in more serious cases, Makore said he could not predict the future.

“I have seen videos of him being fed in the bush and I cannot say how he is going to react in this case. He was also hiding in the ceiling,” he said. 

The hearing will continue today with videos and audio clips expected to be produced in court.  This comes amid accusations and counter-accusations that Sikhala was betrayed by his comrades within the divided MDC Alliance last weekend, leading to his arrest. 

Youth spokesperson Stephen “Sarkozy” Chuma and former Zanu PF youth leader Jim Kunaka were among those who pointed fingers at each other over the arrest. 

Chuma — who is seen as a “disciple” of Sikhala — has denied the accusations that he had sold out his mentor, instead pointing fingers at Kunaka.

“Kunaka had a friend who is a member of the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) who was coming to our hiding place regularly, bringing him food. One day we left the house in the morning with other comrades.

“When we left, I received a call from Kunaka telling me that they had brought me a phone after I had lost mine, and that I needed to rush back to the hiding place within 30 minutes or he would take it back to the shop. 

“Unfortunately, we had no car, but we then heard a few moments later that Wiwa had been arrested,” Chuma told the Daily News earlier this week. 

“Jim was not there at the hiding place when the arrest was made, yet he is not being implicated. The same person who is accusing me is the one who used to bring his CID friends, about three times,” he added. 

Chuma also told the Daily News that the majority of the 14 people who were placed on the police wanted list were staying together at the Tynwald North house, where Sikhala was arrested.

“I am so much in pain because the person who was arrested (Sikhala) is more like a brother and father to me. I have known Wiwa since 2014. I was linked to him by the late (MDC president Morgan) Tsvangirai. I keep so many secrets with Sikhala. 

“I literally live off Sikhala and I can even tell you that all my rentals up to December were paid by Sikhala. I don’t know why I would then bite the hand that feeds me,” Chuma said further. 

On his part, Kunaka said he was convinced that Chuma had snitched on Sikhala after the combative Zengeza West legislator allegedly showed him messages that he got from some sources before he was arrested.
  
“Before we came to the Tynwald house, Sikhala told us that one of us was selling out without mentioning names. But I pressured him to say who it was. 

“He pointed at Sarkozy (Chuma), who then said there were people who wanted to divide us. Sikhala said nothing more, probably thinking that he had changed. 

“But then on Wednesday, he (Sikhala) came to our room and told us that there was a security threat and that he had messages from his sources that Sarkozy was still selling out,” Kunaka told the Daily News.

 Kunaka — a former leader of the notorious and now-defunct Chipangano terror group — also said he had left the Tynwald North house on Thursday, after hearing that his wife was unwell. 

“I left after I consulted Sikhala and … I was supposed to come back on Friday night. I then called Sarkozy to go and collect a phone that I had taken from my shop and told him he would pay later because he had lost his.

“I then got a message from some of the guys who were with Sarkozy that Sikhala had been arrested,” he said further. 

In addition, Kunaka claimed that their security could have been compromised by other people they were staying with, since some went out of the house to buy beer. 

At the time of his arrest, Sikhala had been in hiding for nearly six weeks after suspected State agents began trailing him in the run-up to the foiled July 31 mass demonstrations. 

Two weeks ago, the Daily News was told that some MDC Alliance bigwigs were pushing to have Sikhala expelled from the coalition for his radical political activities and dogged opposition to Zanu PF and its government.
So bad was the situation said to have become for Sikhala, that sources told the Daily News at the time that some of his comrades were even hoping that authorities would manage to fish him out from his hideout. Daily News

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