Sikhala convicted of publishing falsehoods

CCC senior member Job Sikhala was yesterday convicted of communicating falsehoods on social media by Harare regional magistrate Mrs Feresi Chakanyuka.

He will return to court on February 12 for mitigation, aggravation and sentencing.

Sikhala posted on social media that a junior police officer killed a baby with a baton stick in 2021.

Mr Jeremiah Bamu and Mr Harrison Nkomo are representing Sikhala.

In his defence, Sikhala told the court that he does not have a Facebook page and has no control over it.

The State then led evidence from Davison Nkosi, a police officer who recorded a statement from the mother of the child and saw the child himself.

He admitted that he did not verify the owner of the Facebook page.

The issue which sticks out is whether the accused owns or controls the Facebook page.

In assessing the weight of electronic evidence reliability, Mrs Chakanyuka said it was clear that the name and picture appearing on the page is that of Job Sikhala.

“The Facebook page contains the accused’s name and face. The utterances align with the accused’s political rhetoric. The accused gave a defence outline and failed to give his defence. His defence outline is just that, an outline.

“The State laid out a prima facie case which required the accused to respond. However, the accused only opted to invoke his right to silence,” she said.

Mrs Chakanyuka added that as a result of the evidence led by the State, Sikhala is found guilty as charged.

“In our law, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The State does not have to close every avenue of doubt. Therefore, the accused published the prejudicial statement which was meant to undermine the authority of the ZRP. Therefore, the accused is found guilty of communicating falsehoods.”

Meanwhile, another opposition member, Fadzai Mahere, was convicted of the same charge in April last year and fined US$500.

Herald

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