Job Sikhala, Opinion
Early in the morning of Friday January 8, 2021, I learned that the regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa was planning to arrest me.
Still knowing the information too reliably, I informed the world of the impending arrest. I passed the information on to my brother and friend Hopewell Chin’ono and he said he would be with me at all times.
I didn’t know that Hopewell was also the target of the arrest on the same charge. When I was done with him and was busy informing other friendly corners, word broke that Hopewell’s house had been ransacked and they pounced on him.
I tried to inquire about the reason for the arrest, but the explanation was not satisfactory. It has been alleged that I posted comments on Facebook about the alleged police killing of a child and did not locate the day and time. It seemed really weird because I didn’t remember the problem.
I had to work out a plan with friends and colleagues to avoid the usual excuses of arresting us and denying bail due to flight risk so that I could be part of Hopewell Chin’ono’s legal team on the day of his appearance in court. Before that, Hopewell informed me that he had already seen my statement of warning and warning to the police and that he was really after me there.
I went to the law and order department at Harare police station and asked the law and order officer if they wanted me because of the allegations they wanted to make against me . The official in charge said, “You have no such intention.
Hopewell appeared in court for his first remand and I was part of the legal team set up to represent him. I showed up for the first hearing, only to be surprised by the same members of law and order as I was about to walk out of court.
It was the start of a long prison term from Saturday January 9, 2021 to February 2, 2021. For 26 days, I was held in solitary confinement for the first time in the FB2 section of Chikurubi Maximum Prison. This service welcomes prisoners sentenced to death.
Hopewell Chin’ono was in his own solitary confinement cell in the same section. His isolated prison cell directly faced the gallows. Whatever the motive, only the prosecutors know.
We were both denied bail by the trial court. The reason I refused bail was that I had a propensity to commit other crimes as I “bragged about being arrested 65 times in 2020 and had a propensity to re-offend”.
These statements by the magistrate were fabricated evidence, since neither the state nor the defense had produced anything of the sort in court. These are purely fabricated evidence and facts that the magistrate fabricated and acted to deprive me of my freedom.
I will make a strong protest to my attorneys, the Law Society and the Judiciary Service Commission, because such evidence has never been presented in court by either the State or the Defense. I’ve scoured the trial court transcript multiple times for the elusive explanation for 65 arrests in 2020 and couldn’t find that needle in a haystack.
For 26 days, I was deprived of my liberty based on the evidence fabricated by the magistrate. Such evidence was never presented to him. It remains bizarre as to where it was mined.
I would have no problem being denied bail on the basis of evidence and facts presented in court, no matter how false, and confirmed by a judicial officer. To be deprived of your liberty on the basis of evidence and fabricated facts is unprecedented.
The evidence that I bragged about 65 arrests in 2020 is not true. I still wonder where it comes from. Throughout the proceedings in the Magistrates Court, nothing like this was added in court by either party as evidence and facts to be verified by the magistrate.
Although Judge Chitapi elaborated on this and rejected the magistrate’s conclusions about these statements, he commented on the basis of the magistrate’s decision. The integrity of our judiciary is of paramount importance so as not to undermine the administration of justice and public confidence in it.
Fabricating and reacting to evidence and facts to deny a person’s liberty undermines the administration of justice.
Dear colleagues, I would like to thank my legal team, consisting of Harrison Nkomo, Jeremiah Bamu and Paidamoyo Saurombe, for the excellent work they have done in attempting my release. The Zimbabwean Human Rights Advocates (ZLHR) remain the beacon of justice and human rights advocacy.
Words fail me to thank my sister Rose. Heal Zimbabwe Trust, you have supported me and my family throughout my wrongful imprisonment. Tree of life you came with your hand so big that I have no words to thank you. Crisis Coalition (Zimbabwe), You resisted persecution. Amnesty International, you have intensified our worldwide persecution. Thank you very much.
To the people who have repeatedly spoken out against our imprisonment, we thank you. My brothers Brian Kagoro, Trevor Ncube, Siphosami Malunga, Mbuya Dotito, Lynn and all Zimbabweans who supported me. May God do you good. I know that my wife and my children are suffering. I had 3 children who passed their exams in different boarding schools. I didn’t want them to know I was arrested.
I’m disappointed that my daughter called me today, that she cried all the time on the way to exams after learning of my arrest from her teachers. He’s a genius at school. I hope this episode did not affect her. I know how traumatized my family is in these difficult times, but they should know that it is God’s will that I go through such trials and tribulations.
People of Zimbabwe, you remain my source of inspiration. you never betrayed me You were by my side all the time. In Hopewell, housed just before the gallows, remains strong and unwavering.
My love, I will never surrender until freedom is achieved for all of our people. Zimbabwe is too precious to be owned by a greedy few. The future of millions of people is ruined. Young people, your future is bleak. there is no hope We middle-aged people started doing this in our teens. We do it for you and future generations.
Our dear God is with us, the people of Zimbabwe.
I thank you all.
- Job Wiwa Sikhala is the honorable Member of Parliament for Zengeza West. He is the current MDC Alliance national deputy chairperson.