July 14, 2024

Prominent Zimbabwean Opposition Figure, Job Sikhala, Languishes in Detention for Over 500 Days

Job Sikhala, a prominent political figure in Zimbabwe and former Member of Parliament for the opposition CCC, has been languishing behind bars for over 500 days while awaiting trial. The extended detention has sparked serious concerns about the integrity of Zimbabwe’s judicial system, with Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, Khanyo Farisè, condemning the situation as an abuse of power.

Khanyo Farisè stated, “Job Sikhala’s prolonged detention while he awaits trial is a gross miscarriage of justice and an indictment of Zimbabwe’s judicial system. It exemplifies how authorities are abusing the courts to silence opposition leaders, human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and other critical dissenting voices.”

Sikhala’s detention has been widely regarded as politically motivated, with accusations of incitement to commit violence and disorderly conduct stemming from the peaceful exercise of his human rights. Despite international recognition of the right to a fair trial as a fundamental human right, Zimbabwean authorities have consistently denied Sikhala’s bail applications, raising further concerns about the arbitrary use of the legal system to target opposition figures.

Khanyo Farisè emphasized, “The authorities have also failed to demonstrate the necessity of his detention awaiting trial. We call for his immediate and unconditional release. The international community must strongly condemn the continued harassment against him.”

Job Sikhala’s ordeal began with his arrest on June 14, 2022, after attending the funeral of political activist Moreblessing Ali, who had been missing for three weeks before being found murdered and mutilated on June 11, 2022. While he was convicted on May 3, 2023, for obstruction of justice and given a suspended six-month sentence with an option to pay a fine or serve time in jail, he has remained in custody pending trial for the other charges.

His trial for incitement, which started on May 3, 2023, has been postponed to October 27, 2023. Throughout this period, Job Sikhala has been detained at Chikurubi Maximum-security prison in the capital, Harare.

The continued detention of Job Sikhala has drawn widespread international attention and condemnation, with human rights organizations, foreign governments, and activists calling for his release and expressing deep concern about the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

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