State’s Dirty Tricks & Chicanery In Arrest Of Treason Accused MDC MP Job Sikhala Exposed
Human rights lawyers have accused the authorities of employing a series of dirty tricks in the arrest of opposition MDC MP Job Wiwa Sikhala who is facing treason charges for comments that he made at a rally in Bikita.
The case has caused a stir after the lawyers representing Sikhala accused the state of engaging in underhand dealings in order to deny Sikhala his constitutionally protected rights.
In making some of the allegations, human rights lawyer Douglas Coltart narrated as follows,
Job Wiwa Sikhala has now been found. Having spoken to his lawyers, here are the #FACTS about his incommunicado detention and the regime’s clandestine and deceitful operation to move him to Bikita without his lawyers’ knowledge.
Job Sikhala was detained on Tuesday at around 9 am after he voluntarily presented himself to the police for questioning, accompanied by his lawyers. He was detained overnight and was due to appear in court the next morning.
Though there had been talk of moving Sikhala to Bikita, an agreement was reached between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Sikhala’s lawyers that he would appear for initial remand at Harare Magistrate’s Court (Rotten Row) at 2:15 pm.
The NPA asked Sikhala’s lawyers to write a letter consenting to the jurisdiction of Harare Mag Court for initial remand, which they did, even though jurisdiction actually only applies to trial (not remand). The letter was delivered at 12 pm on Wednesday.
Sikhala’s lawyers Obey Shava and Jeremiah Bamu of ZLHR were told to go and wait for him at Rotten Row where he was expected to appear at 2:15 pm. Others from his legal team including Innocent Gonese remained with him at Harare Central police station.
What happened next is truly shocking. As the lawyer’s who had remained with Sikhala were leaving Harare Central expecting to accompany him to Rotten Row, they were barred from leaving. Sikhala was whisked away and no one knew where he had been taken.
Sikhala says that he was blindfolded at this point. This was meant to disorient him and instil fear in him. Such treatment amounts to a violation of the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (section 53 of the Constitution)
His lawyers were not informed. Obey Shava says the first knew he’d been taken to Bikita was when the Information Ministry tweeted about it. The Information Ministry lied that this was a decision of the courts, when in fact he had not been brought before the courts.
Jeremiah Bamu had to drive through the night on the dangerous Harare-Masvingo highway to make it to Bikita for court this morning because the State had LIED to him and clandestinely taken Sikhala to Bikita without his (or any of his lawyers’) knowledge.
Some people, such as a former Herald editor desperate to win favour with a regime that rejected him, think it’s funny for someone to go missing while in police custody. Do you know that people DIED in police custody during the January/February crackdown?
Some people accused me of “rushing to tweet” & spreading fake news because I quickly raised the alarm about Sikhala being missing. Let me tell you a few stories to explain why I do that and why I won’t stop!
When Gift Siziba was abducted in 2016, many of us raised the alarm. We managed to trace the car he’d been abducted into ZANU PF HQ where he was being tortured. Because of the outcry, he was handed to the police. When he got out of prison he told me we’d saved his life.
When Robson Chere was abducted in Arcturus by armed masked men on 16 January 2019, I drove to Goromonzi police station and told the Officer in Charge that if he wasn’t brought to the police station immediately I’d sue him personally. He made a phone call & Chere re-appeared.
When Obert Masaraure was abducted (&tortured) on 18 January & 6 June 2019, we again raised the alarm. His abductors were threatening to kill him – but they knew that the world knew he had been abducted. They ended up dumping him at the police (in January) & in the bush (in June).
When 4 teachers were abducted in April 2019, we delayed raising the alarm until we’d tried to establish where they were. After being lied to by the police, we raised the alarm – and then they were handed over to the police. But in that time, 2 of them had been tortured.
In truth, this is an extremely blood-thirsty regime and so raising the alarm does not always save people’s lives. On 24 January 2019, I raised the alarm that Blessing Toronga had been abducted. Months later, his decomposing body was found at a mortuary.
So, no, raising the alarm does not always work. But often it’s the least that you can do to try and stop torture or save a life. In Job Sikhala’s case, raising the alarm forced Information Ministry’s hand to reveal where he’d been taken. Who knows what might have happened if we had not.
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