Zimbabwe opposition leader freed from two years' pre-trial detention

31 January 2024 - 12:50
By Nyasha Chingono

A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday freed opposition politician Job Sikhala after nearly 600 days of pre-trial detention on charges of inciting public violence in 2022.

Sikhala, 51, a leader in the opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has been arrested dozens of times since he began his political career in 1999.

He was jailed in 2022 for obstruction of justice and inciting public violence after saying that the ruling party, ZANU PF, had killed an opposition activist, which it denied. He denied all charges against him.

On Tuesday, a Harare magistrate convicted him of inciting public violence but gave him a suspended two-year sentence because he had already spent so long in jail.

"He is now a free man. He is going to come out today," his lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told journalists outside the court, where Sikhala's supporters sang and danced in celebration.

Nkomo added that his client, a lawyer, would appeal against the conviction.

"We are not resting. What we want is an acquittal," he said.

Kept in the high-walled Chikurubi maximum prison in Harare which houses Zimbabwe's most dangerous criminals, Sikhala had written spirited letters calling for solidarity.

He is the only Zimbabwean politician to have endured such a long pre-trial detention.