Sikhala Exposes Prison Conditions as Court Denies Chinóno Bail

Sikhala Exposes Prison Conditions as Court Denies Chinóno Bail

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ZENGEZA West constituency legislator Hon. Job Sikhala on Monday 24 August 2020 laid bare the grim conditions prevailing at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where he alleged that prisoners were dying after contracting coronavirus while detained at the notorious prison.

Through his lawyers Jeremiah Bamu, Advocate Eric Matinenga and Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Hon. Sikhala, who was arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members on Friday 21 August 2020 and charged with incitement to commit public violence, told Magistrate Lazini Ncube that some inmates were dying in prison after contracting coronavirus.

Hon. Sikhala, who is detained in the D class section at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, which is reserved for some convicted people currently serving their prison sentences, protested that prison guards were ill-treating him and singled out two officers namely George Mutimbanyoka, the Officer In Charge of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and a junior officer only identified as Murima who told him that he will die in prison.

Mutimbanyoka, Hon. Sikhala said, had asked him to advise prison guards about the identity of his next of kin so as to inform the person as he would die while detained in prison.

The Zengeza West legislator said he was being detained while handcuffed and in leg irons without personal protective equipment and asked the court that he be detained elsewhere other than Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

This ill-treatment by prison officers, Hon. Sikhala said, was a transgression of his fundamental rights.

In response, Magistrate Ncube said the complaints by Sikhala were serious as they affect every inmate’s health and ordered the state to conduct investigations into the state of conditions at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and to furnish the court with a report.

The 48 year-old Hon. Sikhala returns to court on Wednesday 26 August 2020 when Magistrate Ncube will hand down his ruling on his application challenging his placement on remand. Through his application, Hon. Sikhala is arguing that he did not commit an offence warranting to be arrested and detained through recording and circulating the alleged videos as he was exercising his constitutional rights to freedom of expression and petition.

Hon. Sikhala was arrested on Friday 21 August 2020 and charged with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

He was also charged with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act or alternatively incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

ZRP officers alleged that the Zengeza West constituency legislator incited people between 1 March 2020 and 21 August 2020 to participate in public demonstrations that would cause public violence and breach of peace among people in Zimbabwe on 31 July 2020 and on 31 August 2020 by posting video clips with some inciting messages.

Meanwhile, Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on Monday 24 August 2020 denied bail to freelance journalist Hopewell Chinóno, who has been in detention since 20 July 2020 when he was arrested by ZRP members and charged with inciting people to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration during some planned anti-government protests.

ZRP members charged Chin’ono with incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section 187(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.\

ZRP members also pressed alternative charges of incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The law enforcement agents alleged that Chin’ono, who is represented by Advocate Taona Nyamakura, Gift Mtisi and Douglas Coltart of ZLHR, allegedly posted various messages on his Twitter account using the handle @daddyhope between May 2020 and July 2020 calling upon Zimbabweans across the country to engage in acts of public violence against the government on 31 July 2020.

The journalist allegedly posted several messages on Twitter which read; “@Ngarivhume and many others have come to put their hands up and said they will lead anti-looting demo on 31 July”, “Zimbabwe will never be free from looters through elections it is just a waste of time” and “If you feel like shouting#zanuPFMustGo and Mnangagwa and his regime has failed, how they will go will be determined by history and yet Mnangagwa refuses change will come by any means.”

ZRP members alleged that by posting such messages Chin’ono intended to disturb the peace, security or order of the public.

This is the third time that Chinóno has been denied bail after the first two unsuccessful bids before Magistrate Nduna in July and before High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi.

Besides Chinóno, Harare Magistrate Trynos Utahwashe on Friday 21 August 2020 denied bail for the third time to Transform Zimbabwe party leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who has been in jail for more than one month after he was arrested on 20 July 2020.

Magistrate Utahwashe said Ngarivhume, who is represented by Moses Nkomo of ZLHR, cannot be freed on bail because he was a danger to the public.

Ngarivhume was arrested by ZRP members on Monday 20 July 2020 and charged with incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section 187(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. He was also charged with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors alleged that Ngarivhume incited people to revolt against President Mnangagwa’s administration during some planned anti-government protests called for 31 July 2020.

ENDS

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