CCC deputy national chairperson Job Sikhala and Chitungwiza Member of Parliament Godfrey Sithole have been convicted of inciting the public violence that broke out in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza in 2022 after the killing of Ms Moreblessing Ali by a former boyfriend.
The two were convicted after a full trial by Harare magistrate Mrs Tafadzwa Miti who found that Sikhala posted a video encouraging CCC supporters to avenge Ms Ali’s death.
Sithole hired lorries to ferry people from Epworth and other surrounding areas to Nyatsime.
According to the State, 20 families were left homeless following the violence, while 13 shops, six tuckshops and vehicles were extensively damaged after CCC supporters ran amok, indiscriminately attacking residents of Nyatsime.
In passing judgment, Mrs Miti said it was undisputed that it was Sikhala who uttered the words that triggered violence in Nyatsime and these were captured in a video that was posted online.
“Evidence shows that the video was not posted on the accused’s social media platform. The evidence did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that the first accused (Sikhala) did not put the videos, but this does not mean that an offence was not committed.
“From the video evidence it is beyond any doubt that the accused (Sikhala) is the one who uttered the words in the video,” said Mrs Miti.
She noted that there was no evidence of tampering with the video evidence put before the court nor evidence of manipulation that was put before the court.
“Through the words uttered, the accused (Sikhala) clearly incited the people of CCC. Indeed public violence erupted in Nyatsime . . . It is therefore clear that the utterances of the first accused (Sikhala) indeed incited the public to commit violence.”
Magistrate Miti also said Sithole was the one who provided transport to the people that caused violence in Nyatsime.
“The witness managed to link the second accused (Sithole) to the commission of the crime in that he indeed mobilised transport.
“To incite is to influence the mind of another to commit public violence, this can also be by gesture. The court is therefore convinced that the two indeed committed the crime of incitement to commit violence. As such the two accused persons are found guilty as charged,” she said.
The matter returns on January 29 for the sentencing part of the trial with evidence to be led in aggravation and mitigation.
Meanwhile, judgment in another trial of Sikhala, on the charge that he allegedly communicated the falsehood that a police officer killed a baby with a baton, was yesterday deferred to February 7.
Mr Jeremiah Bamu and Mr Harrison Nkomo are representing Sikhala while Mr Oliver Marwa is representing Sithole.
Presiding magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka told the court that the postponement was a result of late filing of closing submissions by the State.
The State alleged that Sikhala tweeted that a junior police officer killed a baby with a baton in 2021.