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Zimbabwean Politician Sikhala Gets Suspended Sentence, Fined for Falsehoods

Former Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala has been sentenced to a nine-month prison term, wholly suspended, and fined US$500 by a Harare magistrate for publishing falsehoods about police actions.

Sikhala was accused of falsely claiming that police officers killed a baby during a confrontation with commuter omnibus operators. Lawyer Harrison Nkomo attributed the suspended sentence to Sikhala's "decent behavior," despite this being his third conviction.

The case stemmed from June 2022, when Sikhala attended the funeral of activist Moreblessing Ali, who disappeared and was later found murdered. Sikhala was initially arrested on obstruction of justice charges and received a suspended sentence in May 2023.

Magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka ruled for a nine-month suspended sentence and a US$500 fine, with two months' imprisonment in lieu of payment. Sikhala previously argued his detention lacked evidence and was fueled by malice.

Nkomo expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict, announcing plans to appeal both the conviction and sentence to the High Court. Sikhala faces two additional charges, including disorderly conduct, with a hearing scheduled for this Friday.

While the sentence was suspended, the case highlights ongoing tensions between Zimbabwean authorities and opposition figures, as well as legal disputes surrounding freedom of expression and access to evidence.


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