State responds to Sikhala, Sithole bail bid
Investigations into the alleged incitement of public violence in Nyatsime by CCC members of Parliament Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole are almost complete with the trial set for November 15, the State said yesterday when opposing the latest bail application by the two.
Sikhala and Sithole applied for a new hearing on bail saying there is a petition signed by nearly 50 000 demanding their release on bail, which they argued was a changed circumstance, and also the failure of the State to provide them with all necessary documents for them to prepare their defence in the forthcoming trial.
The new application is coming through their lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa.
Once bail has been refused it can only be granted if the defence can show changed or new circumstances that allow a reconsideration of the matter.
Prosecutor Mr Lancelot Mutsokoti, in his response, said while it was accepted that the two have been in custody since June 22, significant progress has been made towards bringing them to trial.
“Investigations are now almost complete. The accused have been furnished with some of the State papers. A trial date has been set as 15 November 2022,” he said.
Mr Mutsokoti submitted that allegations against Sikhala and Sithole remained serious and the possibility of a custodial sentence upon conviction is still very high.
Since a trial date has been provided, there is clear progress in the case. This meant that the argument fell away that too much time was passing until trial.
Mr Mutsokoti submitted that failure of the State to furnish them with a trial date could not be a reason for admitting them to bail.
He denied claims that the prosecution was influenced by politics saying there existed reasonable suspicion that they committed the crime with which they are being charged.
“The second changed circumstance alleged by the accused is that there is a perception that the courts are being political and are not being fair, and impartial as required by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“The accused persons also allege that the courts are now seen as not being independent from political interference. The accused persons also allege that it is now believed that their continued detention is more political than legal.
“They have placed reliance on utterances by Professor Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, who allegedly publicly stated that the accused persons’ incarceration could be brought to an end if the political party to which they belong would join POLAD through which their case can be politically dealt with by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”
“The accused alleges that Professor Lovemore Madhuku is an eminent member of POLAD which has close proximity to the President of the country so there can be no doubt that Madhuku is speaking from an informed position,” he said.
Mr Mutsokoti said Prof Madhuku’s assertions cannot be taken as fact.
“This is not a changed circumstance of the nature and quality envisaged for an application of this nature,” he said.
Mr Mutsokoti said that the petition that Sikhala and Sithole were relying on was not a changed circumstance.
He submitted that the copy of the said petition tendered to court has no signatures on it, but has several names with no evidence that those individuals did actually signed it.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manwere is expected to make a ruling on October 5.