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Sikhala free man

FORMER Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala, who spent 595 days in remand prison awaiting trial, is now a free man following his acquittal on the last case on Tuesday.

He was detained on June 14, 2022 on three charges.

Harare magistrate Vongai Guwuriro acquitted him on a charge of inciting the public to commit violence after dismissing the State’s case as weak.

The latest charge stemmed from his alleged call for nationwide mass protests in July 2020.

The magistrate dismissed the charge after noting several inconsistencies in the evidence led by police officers who testified in the matter.

Sikhala’s lawyers Harrison Nkomo and Jeremiah Bhamu told the court that the police was influenced by political malice to arrive at the charge.

In her ruling, Guwuriro said from the evidence adduced, it was clear that all the witnesses did not have any evidence to prove that Sikhala indeed committed the alleged offence.

She added that no witness had confirmed that the video recordings relied upon by the State were in their original form.

“The court accepted the video on condition that they would confirm the authenticity. There is no doubt that the two witnesses safeguarded the video after they downloaded it.

“The suggestion that the accused is one of the authors is merely speculative. The onus is on the State to prove that the requirements of admissibility have been met without reasonable doubt. The State must show that the recordings are original. The State has failed to discharge that onus. No onus lies on the accused,” Guwuriro ruled.

Guwuriro said no voice experts were called to authenticate Sikhala’s voice, adding that the State had the option to call voice experts and the person who uploaded the video clips.

“The State said its case hinged merely on the utterances. However, the State is forgetting that the utterances were in the recordings whose authenticity was not proved.

“The State is wrongly casting the onus on the accused. The story required a voice expert to link the accused to the recording,” the magistrate said as she acquitted Sikhala who was recently convicted and fined on two similar charges.

NewsDay

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