Wednesday, 9 September 2020


LAWYERS representing firebrand MDC Alliance deputy national chairperson Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, say the heavily-built and larger-than-life Zengeza West legislator’s health is deteriorating at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where he is being held pending his trial.

In addition, Sikhala’s lawyers told the Daily News last night that their efforts to see the ailing attorney-cum-politician yesterday came to nought after prison authorities said they had missed the visiting hours for inmates. 

This comes as Sikhala has approached the High Court seeking bail, after his application for freedom was thrown out at the magistrates’ court last week — on fears that he is a flight risk.

Among other health issues, Sikhala — who is facing charges of inciting public violence before and after the foiled July 31 mass protests — is said to be suffering from excessively swollen legs, possibly as a result of hypertension. 

“We are making frantic efforts to have his private doctors visit him at the prison. We will be able to make further comments after doctors assess him.

“We were blocked from seeing him. They said they had closed for the day at 3pm,” his lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told the Daily News. 

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson, Meya Khanyezi, could not be reached yesterday to comment on the matter. 

Sikhala was last week denied bail by Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube, who ruled that he was a flight risk. 

In his bail appeal at the High Court, Sikhala is arguing that the magistrate erred grossly and misdirected himself in denying him his freedom.

“The finding by the court a quo that appellant went into hiding for sometime before he could be arrested is inconsistent with established evidence in that no evidence was adduced by the State of any effort to contact appellant for him to surrender himself to the police at any stage. 

“No evidence was adduced by the State that they made it public that they wanted the appellant in connection with any offence,” his lawyers are arguing. 

They further say that the police press statement of July 27 did not state the offence he was wanted for — and hence there was no basis for him to surrender himself to the police. 

“Even then, there is nothing ex facie the press statement that appellant was sought in connection with the commission of any offence.
“Instead, he was being sought on account of being an activist, which in itself is not an offence. 

“No legal obligation arises for one to surrender self to the police merely on account of being labelled an activist by the police,” Sikhala’s lawyers further argue. 

In addition, Sikhala has said that he is prepared to deposit $15 000 as bail, and to also reside at his St Mary’s home until his court case is finalised. 

This comes after the Zengeza West legislator was arrested last month, during which police claimed that he had been found hiding in a ceiling at a house in Tynwald North — a western suburb of Harare. 

Sikhala — who has disputed the circumstances surrounding his arrest — is facing charges of inciting public violence, which authorities say stem from his utterances in the run-up to the foiled July 31 anti-government protests. 

Ncube ruled last week that Sikhala was a flight risk, citing charges that the lawyer-cum-politician had been playing hide-and-seek with the police before he was arrested.

The court also said there was no reason to believe that the arresting officer, Collin Makore, had lied about him, as it has been shown during bail hearing that the two men enjoyed good relations. 

Ncube also said judging from the videos that had been produced in court, Sikhala knew that he was wanted by the police, but did not surrender himself.

Instead, the court ruled, Sikhala went on to post videos on social media in which he stated that he had received information from various sources that the police were after him. 

The court also said that claims that his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa went and inquired from the police on his behalf could not be accepted, as he should have gone to any police station to clear his name if he was not in hiding. 

Further, the court said, claims that Sikhala had been arrested 64 times was not good enough to grant him bail as each matter needed to be treated on its merits. 

Sikhala was remanded in custody to September 17.  His arrest sent tongues wagging at the time within opposition ranks, where accusations flew furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities. 

The Daily News reported before the arrest 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 newspaper at the time that some his comrades were even hoping that authorities would flush him from his hideout. Daily News


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