Zimbabwe: Sikhala, Sithole Sentencing Today

CCC senior member Job Sikhala and his accomplice, former Chitungwiza North Member of Parliament Godfrey Sithole, will be sentenced today on a charge of inciting the public violence that broke out in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza in 2022 after Ms Moreblessing Ali was murdered by a former boyfriend.

Yesterday, the State presented evidence in aggravation and the defence in mitigation.

Appearing for the State was Mr Ephraim Zinyandu while Mr Jeremiah Bamu and Mr Harrison Nkomo were representing Sikhala.

Mr Oliver Marwa represented Sithole.

The two were convicted after a full trial by Harare magistrate Mrs Tafadzwa Miti.

In aggravation, Mr Zinyandu submitted that the first impact of this offence was that there was public violence that took place that resulted in the destruction of property.

“Once public violence of this nature takes place, there is bound to be insecurity amongst the citizens, especially those who live in the area where it took place. The other impact is the unnecessary use of police resources towards the quelling of public violence. This will also result in loss of confidence among potential investors because there is no investor who wants to do business in a country where there is violence,” he said.

The State was alive to the fact that Sikhala has been in custody for almost a year and 9 months but the court has to take into account the impact of the offence on society as some people lost their property.

In mitigation, Mr Nkomo sought just a fine as Sikhala was a family man who had many dependents and had lost opportunities when he was in prison.

“The defence proposes a wholly suspended prison term to the accused. In the unlikely event that the court decides that the wholly suspended sentence does not meet the circumstances, we propose a fine of level 6 (US$300).

“Despite the State’s claims, we submit that there is no iota of aggravation. The first accused has 12 legal dependents. We cannot mention the other dependents of the extended families. Livelihoods of 23 people look up to the accused. The accused is a legal practitioner and a former legislator — the title that he lost upon his incarceration as he could not contest in the 2023 elections. He has been relegated from being an MP to a regular citizen.”

Mr Marwa told the court it had to consider that Sithole had 50 children that he paid school fees for through a trust and if imprisoned they will be affected negatively.

Agreed facts are that Sikhala posted a video on social media encouraging CCC supporters to avenge Moreblessing Ali’s death and then hired lorries to ferry people from Epworth and other surrounding areas in Chitungwiza to Nyatsime.

According to the State, 20 families were left homeless following the violence, while 13 shops, six tuck-shops and vehicles were extensively damaged after CCC supporters ran amok, indiscriminately attacking residents of Nyatsime.

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