Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter
The trial of MDC-Alliance Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala on charges of incitement to commit public violence starts on Wednesday next week after Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje yesterday set the date when outside delays prevented the State from starting the trial.
The State led by Mrs Tendai Shonhai had yesterday sought for deferment of the trial to next week because of the unavailability of witnesses.
She said one of the witnesses, Edmore Muchineripi Runganga, was attending a Sadc virtual meeting, while Munyaradzi Naison Silomunye had travelled to Masvingo to attend his brother’s funeral.
Mrs Shonhai told the court that she had other matters slotted between today and September 14, making it difficult to deal with Sikhala’s case.
The postponement is not out of the State’s own making, but comes because of the practice direction which set other matters for tomorrow and next week, she said.
Sikhala, who was being represented by lawyers Mr Harrison Nkomo and Mr Jeremiar Bamu, demanded that the trial kicks off since investigations were complete and there were other witnesses whom they said could testify.
They argued that the State indicated that it had eight witnesses, suggesting that they could call those who were not occupied to testify in court.
Mr Bamu told the court that Sikhala was failing to attend to his business as a lawyer and parliamentarian as he would be needed to attend court.
Sikhala is required to report at St Mary’s police station.
Mr Mambanje ruled in the State’s favour and allowed for the postponement, but only for the week.
It appeared as both the State and defense were ready for trial, but the unavailability of the witnesses created the problem, he said.
The court, said Mr Mambanje, agreed that court business took precedence, but when such kind of meeting like the one being attended by Runganga, which is of national importance, occurs, the court must appreciate such magnitudes.
The court will not ignore the need of the country to add value to Sadc, he said.
Sikhala is alleged to have posted videos on social media encouraging people to participate in last year’s July 31 protests.