OPPOSITION legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole yesterday suffered yet another setback after they were denied bail in a case they are facing a charge of incitement to public violence.
The duo, which is being represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and Jeremiah Bhamu, unsuccessfully filed for bail twice at the High Court and thrice at the lower court.
Sikhala and Sithole had applied for bail on changed circumstances saying they have been in prison for four months.
They also challenged their detention saying they are political prisoners.
They further asked the court to release them saying a Political Actors Dialogue member, Lovemore Madhuku, had publicly claimed that their incarceration was political.
Sithole and Sikhala also submitted that more than 50 000 people had signed a petition seeking their release.
But magistrate Taurai Manuwere said the burden of proof rested with the accused persons to show that there were changed circumstances.
Manuwere, while admitting that the accused persons have spent four months in prison, argued that there was progress in the investigation of their cases.
- Harare prisoners cry foul
- Businesswoman donates to Shurugwi orphans
- Brace for war-induced price shocks: Natfoods
- Suns come within one game of eliminating Pelicans
“The State also made it clear that the investigation is complete and this is clear progress,” Manuwere ruled.
The magistrate also said the court did not deal with public perception that the Judiciary was captured.
“They are based on public perception or opinion that the courts are being captured, but not a fact. No evidence of that perception has been placed and public perception cannot influence the courts,” Manuwere said.
He further said Madhuku's public utterances were his personal opinion and could not influence court decisions.
On the petition, Manuwere said: “The decision to grant or not to grant cannot be directed by public perception, but it’s purely on facts. I should make it clear that the courts are independent and not political and I hereby dismiss the application for bail on changed circumstances.”
However, Bhamu filed a notice to apply for removal from remand of the accused persons today saying the State supplied them with new evidence which was not previously communicated to them.
Sikhala is also facing an obstruction of justice charge.
Sikhala and Sithole are being accused of incitement to public violence at the funeral of murdered opposition activist Moreblessing Ali in June this year.