Sikhala finally gets out of jail

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FIREBRAND MDC deputy national chairperson, Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, was finally released from remand prison yesterday after the High Court granted him bail, the Daily News reports.

The Zengeza West legislator, who is facing charges of inciting public violence, had been languishing at Chikurubi prison for nearly a month — following his arrest in a western Harare suburb in August.
In granting Sikhala bail, Justice Erica Ndewere criticised the State for claiming that he was on the police’s wanted list and also a flight risk.
Ndewere initially granted Sikhala a $25 000 bail, before upping it to $50 000 after the larger-than-life lawyer-cum-politician said he did not have title deeds to any property.
“The police used a vague press statement which had no force of law. There was never issued a wanted persons alert and the State was left with no evidence of the appellant’s intention to abscond or hide from arrest.
“The police confirmed that they did not personally look for him and referred to other officers that were never called to testify.
“The investigating officer was looking for him through other officers. The police diary log could not be produced to show the record of police officers having gone to Sikhala’s house,” Ndewere said.
“When the State puts forward an allegation it is duty bound to prove it. The police were derailed by social media posts that the appellant made instead of focusing on investigations and looking for him.
“Even his arrest was a coincidence as the police confirmed that they were not looking for him, but searching his house and coincidentally he was in the ceiling,” she ruled further.
Ndewere also said the lower courts had failed to consider that in videos that were being circulated by Sikhala while in hiding, he referred whoever was looking for him to his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.
She ruled that magistrate Lazini Ncube had grossly erred by admitting that Sikhala was hiding from the police, and yet his lawyers had submitted that he feared being taken away by people travelling in unmarked vehicles who had previously visited his residence.
“What was not supported was the conclusion that the appellant was hiding from police because after unmarked vehicles and unidentified vehicles looked for Sikhala, Mtetwa actually enquired with the Law and Order section if those people were their officers and they denied,” Ndewere said further.
She also said Sikhala’s conduct on the day he was discovered was not consistent with that of a person who would flee.
She also took into consideration that he was a family man with 11 children, and had a constituency and legal profession to safeguard.
Sikhala 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.
His arrest sent tongues wagging at the time within opposition ranks, where accusations flew around furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.
The Daily News had reported before the arrest that some MDC Alliance bigwigs were pushing to have him 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 of his comrades were even hoping that authorities would manage to fish him out from his hideout.

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