Senior Court Reporter
CCC legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, charged with inciting public violence in Nyatsime some months ago, yesterday said they wanted to mount another application for refusal of further remand, which would allow them to go free until the start of their trial in the middle of next month
At the moment the two are remanded in custody, bail having been refused both by the magistrates court and on appeal to the High Court, and attempts to reapply for bail on the grounds of new circumstances having been rejected.
This leaves refusal of further remand as the sole practical route to going free until they are summonsed to court for their trials, and the notice of the application came as their last bail bid was dismissed.
Sikhala and Sithole said yesterday they had noted new evidence from documents they were given by the State to prepare for their trial on November 15.
They argued that this evidence shows that State has a weak case against them.
Through lawyer Mr Jeremiah Bamu, the duo told the court that they will submit written applications tomorrow.
The State led by Mr Godswill Dzivakwe is expected to respond to the application on Tuesday next week with the court making its ruling on October 14, a month before the trial is due to open.
“I have instructions to make an application for removal from remand of accused on basis that new evidence has been made through charge sheet and outline of State case, which completely destroys suspicion that accused committed the offence,” said Mr Bamu.
Mr Bamu made the notification soon after the court dismissed Sikhala and Sithole’s latest application for bail on changed circumstances.
Sikhala and Sithole had cited passage of time since their initial appearance in court and a petition they claimed to have been signed by 48 000 people as changed circumstances in their case that warranted their release on bail.
They had also claimed that the matter was being handled politically and that Professor Lovemore Madhuku had suggested that their party joins POLAD to find space to approach the President for his intervention.
In his ruling, Mr Manwere acknowledged that four months had lapsed since their initial appearance in court and that “was a changed circumstance”.
Mr Manwere then ruled that while the passage of time was a changed circumstance it was not an adequate changed circumstance in the actual circumstances, and that courts cannot be swayed by public opinion.
“The State said the passage of time argument must fall away because investigations are almost complete and applicants were furnished with papers and a trial date was set as November 15.
“It is court finding that passage of time is fresh circumstances as it was not placed on initial appearance.
“But it is not mere passage of time warranting granting of bail.”
Mr Manwere also ruled that the court cannot be swayed by public opinion and perception on the manner they view the matter is being handled.
He said the court was bound by facts and what the law says.
The court described the petition as public clamour and that it could not be swayed by such in making its decisions. Mr Manwere said Prof Madhuku’s opinion could not be taken as fact.
“They want to granted bail on public perception, opinion and clamour. This is unethical.
“They are not changed circumstances. I refuse to be swayed by public perception, opinion and clamour and the court refuses to be dragged into politics,” he said before dismissing their latest bail application.