By Court Reporter
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Job Sikhala has been ordered to pay a fine of US$600 by May 5, 2023, or face a potential jail term of six months.
The verdict comes after Sikhala was charged with obstructing the course of justice, although he was not successful in his attempts.
During the proceedings, the state prosecutor argued for a custodial sentence, emphasizing the seriousness of the case.
The prosecutor maintained that Sikhala should be treated no differently from someone who had successfully obstructed the course of justice.
However, Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa, presiding over the case, took various factors into consideration before delivering the verdict.
The magistrate acknowledged Sikhala’s role as a family man, responsible for 11 children, furthermore, Gofa noted that Sikhala had already spent 11 months in prison, which the magistrate considered a punishment in its own right.
“I have taken into consideration that you are a family man with 11 children. For the 11 months you have spent in prison so far, that is a punishment on its own. In aggravation, I have noted that you really did obstruct the course of justice; however, you did not defeat the course of justice. Accused has been in custody for 11 months, so sending him to prison will be too harsh,” said Gofa
The ruling has generated mixed reactions from the public, with members of the opposition castigating the sentence saying the charges are trumped up to silence dissenting voices.
Sikhala, had been earlier on found guilty of attempting to obstruct the course of justice.
The charges stem from a video he posted, which accused Zanu PF militants of the murder of fellow opposition activist Moreblessing Ali in June last year.
Sikhala’s arrest took place in June of last year, and he has since been detained in jail. Notably, Sikhala also serves as the legal counsel for Ali’s family.
The family has taken a strong stance in response to Sikhala’s conviction, refusing to proceed with Ali’s burial until he is released.