Beatrice Mtetwa, the lawyer representing incarcerated opposition Citizens Coalition for Change legislator Job Sikhala yesterday applied for the arrest of deputy Prosecutor-General Michael Reza and prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti for contempt of court after they refused to furnish her with State papers for her client.
Harare magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka had on August 18 issued a ruling directing Reza and Mutsokoti to release the State papers.
Sikhala and his co-accused opposition Citizens Coalition for Change Chitungwiza North legislator Godfrey Sithole have spent a record 86 days in remand prison facing charges of incitement to violence allegedly committed during the funeral of opposition activist Moreblessing Ali in Nyatsime, Chitungwiza..
Mtetwa made the bid to have the prosecutors arrested when she appeared before magistrate Taurai Manuwere yesterday.
She is representing the duo together with Jeremiah Bhamu, who is taking instructions from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Mtetwa said Mutsokoti lied before the court on August 3 that Sikhala’s docket was ready for trial and ordinarily, she was supposed to be furnished with the State papers.
“The two accused (Sikhala and Sithole) are being subjected to a different type of justice. They were given a trial date almost two months ago and up to now, no State papers have been provided,” Mtetwa said.
“We now request that Messrs Reza and Mutsokoti be placed in custody until the defence papers are provided ... so that the State, particularly the prosecution, understands that the powers they wield are constitutional powers that they hold on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe and that they prosecute on our behalf and, therefore, such powers will not be abused.”
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Asked why the State papers were not furnished, Mutsokoti requested for an adjournment to allow him to consult his superiors. After the adjournment, he claimed he had been advised that the intention was to serve the defence with the full set of State papers.
Manuwere will deliver his ruling on Friday.
Meanwhile, legal expert Robert Amsterdam has said Sikhala is a political prisoner.
Amsterdam was speaking during a Twitter space co-hosted by NewsDay assistant editor Alfonce Mbizwo and Alpha Media Holdings digital and online editor Silence Mugadzaweta recently.
The discussion was held under the theme Selective Application of the Law in Zimbabwe. Nyatsime 13. Is the Zimbabwean Justice System Fair?
“Throughout the country, really since the inception of self-government in 1980 and even before that, the history of Zanu PF in their brutality in the camps before independence just demonstrates a complete disregard for rule of law,” Amsterdam said.
“In talking about justice in Zimbabwe, we don’t need to call a spade a shovel. Justice does not exist for those whose political beliefs and party memberships differ from Zanu PF.”
Amsterdam said there was evident selective application of the law in the way the Sikhala case was being handled.
“The law is not as it is written, but the law is as it is applied. It is important that we understand that Sikhala is still in jail because he was representing the family of a murdered member of the opposition,” he said.
“It is the application of the law that determines the system of the law and when the structure has failed, and when murders of opposition leaders and tortures and rapes go on a consistent daily, weekly, monthly basis.”
Amsterdam added that he was going to submit documents to the international fora to substantiate his claims.
“We will be presenting documents citing specific cases in respect to this persecution of the political opposition that denies their rights under international law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe to international forums in the next 60 days,” he said.
But local lawyer Munya Midzi said Amsterdam should bring substantive evidence to prove his claims.