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Convicted Sikhala found guilty again

Zimbabwe - Former Opposition Legislator for Zengeza West, Job Sikhala, a convicted opposition politician has been found guilty once again for publishing falsehoods, a week after escaping jail time for inciting public violence.

Wilson Waison

Harare regional Magistrate, Feresi Chakanyuka said the firebrand politician was found guilty of communicating falsehoods.

Sikhala will however spend the weekend with his family and face his fate on Monday 12th February when he will appear before the same magistrate for mitigation. Submitting her ruling, Magistrate Chakanyuka said the state is convinced that the Facebook page bares the face of Sikhala.

“It is clear that the accused is the publisher of the post which alleged that a child died after a police officer hit her,” she said.

Chakanyuka said the defence outline submitted by Sikhala was not convinced that he was not the owner of the Facebook post in question.

“The accused person is obligated to lay all the facts as to why he submitted that the Facebook page did not belong to him,” Chakanyuka said.

The regional Magistrate said the post made by Sikhala bares a direct attack on the reputation of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

“It undermines the public confidence of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and reflects it as a wretch.”

This would be his third conviction by the magistrate court although the High Court overturned the earlier guilty verdict passed on him on charges of obstructing the course of justice.

After spending 595 days in pre-trial detention, Sikhala was allowed to go home last week by magistrate Tafadzwa Miti on the change incitement to cause public violence when she sentenced him and Godfrey Sithole to a wholly suspended sentence of three years on a condition of good behaviour.

Sikhala’s sympathizer, Makomborero Haruzivishe said the conviction signifies a captured judicial system.

“Today’s second conviction of Sikhala in around a week after he was released from 595 days in jail as a political prisoner further indicts the Zimbabwean courts which have been weaponised against government critics.”

Ironically, Sikhala was part of the legal team representing freelance journalist Hopewell Chino'ono after he was arrested on the same charges.

The charismatic journalist was then acquitted on April 28 2021 of the same charge Sikhala is facing today by a High Court Justice after spending close to 80 days in custody.

In her ruling on the same matter, Justice Jester Helena Charewa said it was declared that section 31 (a) (if) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23] was no longer part of Zimbabwean law

Charewa’s judgment detailed that it was further declared that there is no offence called publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State under Zimbabwean law.

Despite the ounce of clarity, the regional magistrate found Sikhala guilty of the same matter.

Sikhala’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said his client will come back for the sentencing on February 12 from home.

“Our client will come for pre-sentencing on Monday and we are determined to fight for his justice,” he said.


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