Amnesty International has condemned the treatment of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole who have been in remand prison since their arrests in mid-June.
Sikhala (Zengeza West) and Sithole (Chitungwiza North) were arrested on charges of inciting public violence in Nyatsime after the killing of CCC activist, Moreblessing Ali. Both deny the allegations.
In a statement this week, Amnesty International’s deputy director for southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said:
The continued detention of Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole and the denial of their lawyers access to meet with them is an absolute travesty of justice.
There is an emerging trend where critics of government and members of the opposition are consistently harassed and denied bail by the courts, brought to court in iron legs and at times denied access to their lawyers.
Yet high profile political elites facing criminal offences are in most cases treated entirely differently with bail being granted regardless of the seriousness of the offence.
The charges levelled against Sikhala and Sithole and the denial of bail at the magistrates’ court show all the hallmarks of an effort to persecute and silence political opposition by the Zimbabwean authorities.
The authorities should refocus their efforts on ensuring that Moreblessing Ali’s killers face justice, and ensuring access to justice and effective remedies for victims and their families.
Sikhala and Sithole were both denied bail when they appeared before a magistrate and have since appealed to the High Court.
The two legislators were at the High Court again on Tuesday for the bail appeal but the hearing was postponed to Thursday after prosecutors said they were yet to file opposing papers.