Police, MDC-A supporters clash during Sikhala court appearance
POLICE and MDC Alliance supporters yesterday engaged in running battles outside the courts where party vice chairperson Job Sikhala was challenging his placement on remand after his arrest on allegations of inciting public violence last Friday.
Police fired teargas to disperse the protesters from the Harare Magistrates’ Court and several party supporters were arrested for demanding the release of the firebrand Sikhala.
The rioting took place after Sikhala sensationally claimed his life was in danger and asked to be transferred from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where he was detained for the weekend after initially appearing in court on Saturday.
Sikhala alleged that the officer in charge at the prison, George Mutimbanyoka, had told him that “you shall die in this prison”.
One of his lawyers, Harrison Nkomo, told the court that Mutimbanyoka ordered Sikhala to be handcuffed and put in leg irons for the whole day on Sunday.
He said Sikhala no longer felt safe and wanted to be moved to another remand prison.
Nkomo claimed Sikhala had been placed in the D Section at the prison where seven people had allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 the day before he was taken there.
The lawyer claimed on Saturday, the day Sikhala was taken to Chikurubi, four inmates tested positive for the virus.
“He (Sikhala) was advised that the previous day, seven inmates had tested positive for the deadly coronavirus and on the day he went there four more inmates tested positive,” Nkomo claimed.
State counsel Garudzo Ziyaduma said Sikhala’s claims would be investigated and a report produced in court.
Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube ordered the State to fully investigate the allegations raised by the defence against Mutimbanyoka and that the prison cells be sanitised as it is a matter of life.
Sikhala challenged his placement on remand on allegations of inciting public violence ahead of the foiled July 31 protest.
His other lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu was put on the witness stand by the lead defence counsel Eric Matinenga to explain the developments of Friday when Sikhala was arrested in Tynwald North, Harare, to bolster their application.
This was after the State had indicated that they would not put the investigating officer on the stand at this stage.
Bamu told the court that court documents that were produced at Harare Central Police Station after the arrest of Sikhala were different from the ones that were tendered before the court.
He said at the police station, some statements were recorded in vernacular, but that was no longer the case with the charge sheet (Form 242) before the court.
He said all the papers now before the courts do not disclose an offence.
Bamu claimed statements such as “I will fight the State as I’m not easily intimidated” attributed to Sikhala had been added just to bolster the State’s case.
The application proceeds today.