Zimbabwean Opposition Leader, Sikhala, Found Guilty of Inciting Violence

Zimbabwean Opposition Leader, Job Sikhala, Found Guilty of Inciting Public Violence in Harare.

Prominent Zimbabwean opposition figure Job Sikhala, 52, has been convicted of inciting public violence in Harare, potentially facing up to 10 years of imprisonment. The charges stemmed from accusations by the police that Sikhala, a former MP, encouraged his supporters to react violently to the death of opposition activist Moreblessing Ali.

Sikhala, who denied the charges, argued that he was acting as the family lawyer in the search for Ali, who was initially considered missing before her dismembered body parts were found in a well. He refuted allegations of organizing transport for party supporters to engage in revenge violence and posting a social media video urging retaliation for Ali’s killing.

Despite Sikhala’s denial of posting the video, Magistrate Tafadzwa Miti ruled that evidence indicated the politician was speaking in the video and held him responsible for the ensuing violence. Another individual, arrested and sentenced to 30 years in jail, was linked to Ali’s killing, but the ruling ZANU-PF rejected claims that he was a party official.

Sikhala’s lawyer, Harisson Nkomo, stated that both Job Sikhala and Honorable Godfrey Sithole were convicted of incitement to commit public violence, with sentencing scheduled for January 29. Since his arrest, Sikhala has spent nearly two years in prison without bail.

The situation has raised concerns about human rights in the country, with observers noting the deterioration and misuse of pre-trial incarceration. Lawyers for Sikhala and Sithole plan to plead for leniency during the upcoming hearing, where both men could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine.

Tensions ran high in the Harare courthouse, with a crowded courtroom and anti-riot police maintaining a presence inside and outside. Activists protesting Sikhala’s detention were dispersed, reflecting a broader sentiment that sees Sikhala as a symbol of resistance against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged repression. Global and local human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have voiced concerns, citing Sikhala’s case as indicative of continued repression against opposition figures, students, and labor unionists in Zimbabwe. Despite having been arrested over 65 times in the past two decades, Sikhala had not faced a conviction until this recent verdict. In December, the High Court in Harare overturned a magistrate’s verdict from May, which had fined Sikhala $600 for a separate charge of obstructing the course of justice related to Ali’s death

Quest: Emmanuel kelvin

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