‘Sikhala has case to answer’
HARARE regional magistrate Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa yesterday ruled that CCC deputy national chairperson Job Sikhala should explain himself over the videos he allegedly posted on social media relating to the murder of Ms Moreblessing Ali and the violence that ensued in Nyatsime sometime last year.
According to the State, the videos were aimed at hindering police investigations into the killing of Ms Ali and the violence that rocked Nyatsime.
Mrs Gofa said evidence led from State witnesses needed some answers from Sikhala hence the need to put him to his defence. She made the finding while dismissing Sikhala’s application for discharge at the close of the State case.
Sikhala is charged with obstruction or defeating the course of justice after he allegedly posted a video aimed at swaying police in investigating Ms Ali’s cause of death and the violence that rocked Nyatsime. In his application Sikhala had argued that there was no evidence to prove that he recorded and posted the video on social media and that it was directed to police.
In her ruling, Mrs Gofa said that from the analysis of Sikhala and State’s submissions, the issue was not on whether the State has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against him to justify a conviction.
The court also ruled that, at this stage, the reliability and credibility of State witnesses’ evidence, the video’s authenticity and its origin and whether it has been proved with certainty that police investigations of the murder case of Moreblessing Ali had started were also not of concern to the court.
“Some of the issues raised might well be argued at the end of trial when they submit their closing submissions in terms of Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9:07.
“At this stage of the proceedings, the simple question is whether there is evidence against the accused person which requires a reply or answer from him.
“This was also rightly argued by the State. My emphasis is on the words I have emboldened “reply or answer from the accused. The court is of the view that indeed, there is evidence before court that calls for an answer or reply from the accused.
“There is evidence on a balance of probability that links the accused to the video in question and the scene.
“Whether the video is authentic or not, as well as its originality are issues not to be decided at this stage, but rather will be decided at the end of trial,” she said.
Mrs Gofa in her ruling also said that Sikhala had earlier told the court through his supplementary defence outline that he has a defence witness who will testify in his corner at defence case.
She said that Sikhala’s lawyers knew from the beginning that there were questions that needed answers.
“Even the defence told the court that the accused has one defence witness to the alibi issue in its supplementary defence outline, who will give evidence in support of the accused during his defence case.
“This clearly shows that the defence knew that there is need for an answer from the accused (when accused is put to his defence ease).
“Even defence indicated to the State witness that the accused will disprove the issues raised by the third State witness, during his defence case.
“This cannot just be swept under the pillow when clearly, the accused should answer or reply to all the assertions raised by the State,” she said.
Mrs Gofa said that, at this stage of the trial, it cannot be said that State’s evidence from its witnesses was “manifestly unreliable” for it to be rejected outright.
“Court cannot, therefore, ignore all this evidence because the evidence calls for an answer from the accused person.
“Accordingly, court finds that there is a prima facie case against the accused which requires an answer,” she said before dismissing Sikhala’s application.
Sikhala is expected back in court on April 21 for his defence case.