Lawyers Fight For Sikhala's Release

Harare, – Lawyers representing MDC 99 leader Job Sikhala have filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking his release from police custody where he has been incarcerated since his arrest last Friday.\r\n

Sikhala was arrested while at his shop in Chitungwiza by four uniformed police officers and two unknown men in plain clothes who advised him that the police wanted to re-record statements in a fraud matter which he reported early this month.

Upon arrival at St Mary’s Police Station in Chitungwiza, Sikhala was then advised that he was under arrest and was detained in connection with minerals and that statements would be recorded on Saturday.

At the time of his arrest, the MDC 99 leader was informally told that his arrest was linked to a purported one million men march which the police said was scheduled to take place on Tuesday in a bid to topple the government through the “Egyptian style “and that Sikhala was going around the country mobilising people to participate.

But on Saturday, Sikhala was advised that he was being charged with kidnapping or unlawful detention as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, and was taken to CID Minerals Unit for the recording of a warned and cautioned statement and thereafter returned to St Mary’s Police Station for his continued detention. The alleged kidnapping is said to have happened at Zengeni Shopping Center in Mutare, Manicaland Province on 19 February 2011 but was only reported six days later in Chitungwiza, Mashonaland East Province

It is still not clear as to why the matter is being handled by CID Minerals Unit as the kidnapping offence has nothing to do with minerals.

It is further not clear as to why the matter was reported in Harare and not Mutare where the offence is alleged to have been committed.

In the urgent chamber application which was filed at the High Court on Monday, Sikhala’s lawyers of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni cited the co-ministers of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and the Detective Superintendent Churu, the Officer In Charge of CID Minerals Unit.

In their application, the lawyers argued that the MDC 99 leader was unlawfully arrested and detained and continues to be in unlawful detention.

The lawyers say Sikhala has been charged with trumped up charges of kidnapping or unlawful detention as defined in Section 93(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 and there is no reasonable suspicion that the former St Mary’s legislator committed any criminal offence and his arrest was premeditated with the sole intention to harass him.

In a startling disclosure, the lawyers revealed that Sikhala dislocated his pelvis when he was assaulted during his arrest by one of the police detectives and is in need of urgent medical attention.

Despite requests for medical treatment the lawyers say the police have denied their client such services.

The lawyers also protested against the deplorable cell conditions under which Sikhala is being detained which they said were filthy, inhuman and degrading such that no human being should be incarcerated in such conditions.

In their draft order the lawyers want the police to immediately release Sikhala or alternatively place him before a Magistrate sitting as a remand court to determine his fate failing which they should forthwith release him from custody and thereafter no Magistrate should entertain the matter.