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Sikhala remanded in custody over subversion charges

By Thabani Zwelibanzi 

A Bikita magistrate on Thursday remanded MDC legislator, Job Sikhala in custody until July 24, ruling that the opposition party’s vice chairman be detained at Masvingo Remand Prison.

Marewanazvo Gofa dismissed an appeal from Sikhala’s lawyer, Alec Muchadehama that the legislator be released out of custody on the grounds that he had been detained for longer than the 48 hours that is permissible by law.

Gofa said the application lacked merit and advised Sikhala to apply to the High Court for bail.

Sikhala also raised a number of allegations against the Zimbabwe Republic Police, among them that the law enforcement agents had blind-folded him and drove him to Masvingo.

He said he had been ill-treated and denied access to his lawyers and family members.

In addition, Sikhala alleged that the police had refused to give him his medication.

The magistrate said Sikhala’s claims should be investigated.

The Zengeza West legislator has been charged for subverting a constitutionally elected government, the 21st person to face those charges since the beginning of the year.

He is accused of calling for the overthrow of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, in remarks that were captured on a video that went viral in the days leading to his arrest.

“The video of the accused addressing the rally where he uttered that their party was going to overthrow the constitutionally elected government of Zimbabwe by fight and war also went viral on Twitter and other social media platforms and was accessible to the general populace of Zimbabwe,” the state’s outline read.

In his statement that was captured on the video, Sikhala allegedly said they were serious “about the war and fight we are going to take to the doorstep of Emmerson Mnangagwa”.

Sikhala was initially due to appear in court in Harare on Wednesday, but the state shifted goalposts and took him to Bikita.

Angry MDC supporters picketed at the Rotten Row Magistrate’s Court when news that Sikhala was not going appear there and instead had his initial hearing moved to Bikita.

His lawyers have since indicated applied for bail at the High Court.

Meanwhile, MDC youth leader Gift Siziba appeared before a Mbare magistrate on accusations of inciting violence.

He was released on RTGS$1000 bail and was ordered to report three times a week at Harare Central Police Station.

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