By Lenin Ndebele for News24.com
Like a heavyweight wrestler caught with an ankle lock move and expected by his opponent to give up, Zimbabwean serial victim of state repression, opposition politician Job Sikhala is not about to throw in the towel.
Instead, in an emotional letter from prison, Sikhala called on Zimbabweans to hold a day of prayer on 17 July for those incarcerated with him.
May you please kindly make Sunday, 17th of July 2022 a national day of prayer for all of us who are jailed without trial for seeking justice for Moreblessing Ali.
Sikhala, the Citizens Coalition for Change’s (CCC) vice national chairperson, human rights lawyer and legislator, was arrested on 14 June.
His arrest came after violence broke out in Nyatsime, Chitungwizwa, a dormitory town east of Harare, after the burial of Moreblessing Ali a CCC activist who was allegedly killed by Zanu-PF member Pius Mukandi Jamba.
Investigations by the police did not link the murder to political violence. But because of the volatile political climate in the country, both Zanu-PF and the CCC have traded barbs, culminating in violence over the issue.
Sikhala, who is also the legal counsel for the Ali family, was charged with instigating violence, which he denied.
With some CCC youth members, he is now a guest of the state, having been denied bail three times.
His CCC colleagues said his detention was meant to break his spirit. But in his letter, Sikhala wrote as if his detention did bother him.
“I have no regrets whatsoever with the role I played together with many other Zimbabweans to obtain justice for Moreblessing Ali after she was murdered.
“It is a role that I am prepared to be imprisoned for because I was doing my work as a lawyer, Member of Parliament, a community leader.
“Generations to come will remember many others and myself for having been jailed for standing up for a defenceless and poor woman who was brutally murdered by political thugs,” he wrote.
Appearing in court on July 7, Sikhala and another accused, legislator Godfrey Sithole, told a Harare magistrate they were denied access to their lawyer and a doctor by prison authorities. When Sithole fell ill he was denied medical care.
The two are housed at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
In their previous court appearance, they were brought in with leg chains, which is usually reserved for dangerous criminals.
On Tuesday, Sikhala was taken from prison to court to face new charges of obstructing or defeating the course of justice.
In the second charge, he is accused of having “recorded and circulated a video clip wherein he intended to mislead police officers probing the murder of Moreblessing Ali”.