Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) top politicians Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, facing trial for public violence incitement charges, have been put to their defence after Harare magistrate Tafadzwa Miti Friday dismissed an application for discharge.
Both landed in the dock for allegedly whipping up emotions in the wake of party activist Moreblessing Ali’s gruesome murder May last year by alleged Zanu PF supporters in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza.
Ali’s dismembered body was found dumped in a disused well 18 days after her disappearance.
Sikhala, who has been languishing in remand prison without bail since June last year, had been hired as lawyer by the slain activist’s family.
For Sikhala, charges emanate from a social media video in which the former legislator vowed Ali should be accorded due justice.
Court on Friday said prosecutors have proved their case against the Chitungwiza politicians beyond reasonable doubt.
“After considering the evidence submitted by the State, the court has made the finding that the State managed to establish a prima facie case against the accused,” ruled the magistrate.
“It was also revealed during trial that the two accused were seen by two people driving towards Nyatsime, hence there is need for the accused to explain the utterances they made in the video.
“The court is convinced that the State managed to establish a prima facie case.
“The court is dismissing the application made by the accused for discharge. The accused are put to their defence.”
Defence hearing commences on November 20, 2023.
Sikhala and Sithole were arrested on June 14 last year charged with the crime.
Sithole was later granted bail but freedom has been elusive for Sikhala with courts leaning on the State’s claims the veteran politician was a repeat offender.
Sikhala’s continued incarceration without bail has been a rallying point for the opposition and rights groups to demand justice for political prisoners in a country fraught with persecutions on government critics.
Global rights group, Amnesty International, in a recent statement, called on Zimbabwean authorities to “stop weaponising the law to target opposition figures and ordinary citizens”.
In past comments, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa has besought the international community to help amplify his party’s voices in demanding the unconditional release of the prominent politician.