BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
JOURNALIST Hopewell Chin’ono was yesterday granted $20 000 bail at the High Court after spending almost three weeks in detention on charges that he contends have no legal force.
His bail appeal hearing was heard before Judge Justice Davison Foroma who said the magistrate misdirected himself by insinuating that the evidence against Chin’ono was overwhelming.
Chin’ono was denied bail by Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube on the basis that he was likely to commit another offence since he was arrested while on bail for another criminal matter.
“In proving that the State case against appellant was not strong, the defence challenged the witness to produce a copy of the publication, which the witness failed to do,” Justice Foroma said.
He said the bail conditions on his other matter also apply in this matter.
Meanwhile, bail appeal judgement for MDC-Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala, who is facing similar charges of communicating falsehoods was postponed to February 1, 2020.
In his appeal heard before High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi, Sikhala, represented by Jeremiah Bamu submitted that since Chin’ono and Fadzai Mahere who are facing similar charges had been granted bail, the court was also to consider treating his case likewise.
But the State, led by prosecutor Tozivepi Mapfuwo, argued that Sikhala was not jointly charged with Mahere and Chin’ono and his case had its own different circumstances.
Mahere, the MDC-Alliance spokesperson, was granted bail at the magistrates’ courts. The State also opposed Sikhala bail on the basis that there was a probability that he would commit a similar offence. But Justice Chitapi said it was in the interest of justice if the accused was denied bail on the basis that he was likely to commit another first schedule offence which attracted a jail penalty exceeding six months.
He said on denying Sikhala bail, the magistrate did not state the offence which the accused was likely to commit if he was to be released but he just generalised.
Justice Chitapi also said the State was relying on the basis that the legislator was likely to commit other offences yet the court had not yet determined that indeed Sikhala had committed the offences.
Bamu told the court that his client was eligible for bail because he had only one pending matter when Chin’ono and Mahere who had already been released, had two pending criminal matters each before the courts.
Sikhala, Chin’ono and Mahere are being charged with violating section 31(a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which they argue was struck off.