Harare, January 10, 2024 – Former Zengeza West legislator, Job Sikhala, and his co-accused, Godfrey Sithole, are set to learn their fate on January 24, 2024, in a closely-watched case where they are charged with inciting public violence. The trial concluded on Tuesday morning, marking a pivotal moment in the high-profile legal proceedings.
Sikhala, who served as a legislator for the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) at the time of his arrest in June 2022, has endured nearly 600 days of pre-trial detention, with all his previous bail attempts denied by the courts. In contrast, Godfrey Sithole was released on bail during the course of the trial.
Both Sikhala and Sithole stand accused of inciting public violence, which erupted in the Nyatsime area following the murder of party activist Moreblessing Ali, a crime for which Pius Mukandi Jamba was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Sikhala’s prolonged detention has sparked widespread condemnation from regional and international rights groups and activists, who argue that his incarceration may be politically motivated by the ruling Zanu PF government’s grudges against opposition figures.
Addressing the issue, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi defended Sikhala’s detention during the official opening of the 2024 legal year in Harare on Monday. Ziyambi emphasized the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, urging patience and trust in the judicial process.
“When you go to the courts, do not expect the outcome to be on your side,” Ziyambi stated. “Our courts are independent, and they are doing their job with no interference.”
He went on to say, “Cases are looked at from both sides,” emphasizing the importance of fairness and due process in legal proceedings.
The impending verdict in the Sikhala and Sithole case has garnered significant attention from legal and political circles, as well as the international community, with many closely monitoring the developments.
Sikhala’s case has become a rallying point for calls on the Zanu PF-led administration to release political prisoners and address concerns regarding state persecution against political opponents.
The upcoming judgment on January 24, 2024, will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications and will be closely observed as a test of the Zimbabwean legal system’s fairness and independence.