HARARE – Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Khanyo Farise has described former opposition legislator Job Sikhala’s continued detention as a travesty of justice.
Farise was responding to Tuesday’s High Court ruling overturning the veteran politician’s guilty verdict on charges of obstruction of justice.
“That he will remain in prison on other baseless charges of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct is a travesty of justice and a violation of his human rights,” Farise said.
“We welcome the High Court’s ruling. However, it has come only after Job Sikhala has lost more than 500 days of his life in detention based on trumped up charges of obstruction of justice.
“Job Sikhala should never have been detained in the first place.
“That he will remain in prison on other baseless charges of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct is a travesty of justice and a violation of his human rights.
“This is yet another example of the Zimbabwean authorities’ ongoing weaponization of the law to target activists and opposition figures to silence dissent.
“Authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Job Sikhala and all charges against him should be dropped as he is detained solely for peacefully exercising his human rights.”
Sikhala was arrested on 14 June 2022 after attending the funeral of political activist, Moreblessing Ali, who had been missing for three weeks before being found murdered and mutilated on 11 June 2022.
He was convicted on 3 May 2023 for obstruction of justice and given a suspended six-month sentence with an option of paying US$600 or spending six months in jail.
However, he has been kept in prison pending trial for two other charges of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct.
He has been held at Chikurubi Maximum-security prison in the capital Harare since June 2022.