OPPOSITION MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala, who is currently in remand prison on charges of inciting public violence, is set to know his fate today after he challenged his placement on remand.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Sikhala, who was represented by Jeremiah Bhamu, Eric Matinenga and Harrison Nkomo, appeared before magistrate Lazini Ncube, who is set to deliver the ruling today.In his challenge, Sikhala said political bantering was allowed at law since he was sworn to oppose the ruling party.
Matinenga said speaking out could not be interpreted as inciting violence.“Political bantering using the words ‘fight’ and ‘war’ does not constitute inciting violence. It is very sad that we do not have a culture of tolerance in this country. Instead of protecting those who want to demonstrate or petition, they are sent away from the streets yet the Constitution provides for this,” Matinenga said.
“Our Constitution allows for demonstrations which give different stories in the political field and these matters. What the State is seeking to do in Form 242 (remand sheet with a brief outline of accused’s charges) is to perpetuate a single narrative or story.”
The State, represented by Garudzo Ziyadhuma, said from the tone on Form 242, Sikhala committed an offence and was confrontational.
“He said he is not afraid, meaning that he was taking a confrontational approach. The court is at large to make its own findings on grounds of reasonable suspicions even without the presence of the investigating officer,” Ziyadhuma said.
“How can the defence say political bantering is allowed when they allege they were not shown the videos? Sikhala’s utterances in the videos constitute a crime. The Constitution provides for rights to freedom of expression but they are limited and they should not encourage violence or hate speech.”
But Matinenga submitted that a tone could not constitute an offence: “How can a tone constitute a criminal offence?”
Ziyadhuma said there were videos implicating Sikhala which were set to be used as evidence in court.
But Matinenga said the magistrate could not bluntly accept the said videos when they have not yet been placed as evidence before the court.
Matinenga further said that the State could not cherry pick allegations from a warned and cautioned statement and place them as facts in court.