I am a journalist who closely reported the the developments in the cases of Job Sikhala, Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume after their arrest on Inciting Public Violence. I work for the locally registered online media house. There is no day my bosses didn’t allocate me duties to Court to cover and follow the cases of the three blow by blow. Many international news outlets borrowed stories about the developments on the trio’s cases from us.
I remember on the day when the hearing for Job Sikhala’s bail appeal in the High Court was to be heard, we were shuffled from one Court to another until we were told that the bail hearing by the Judge will be heard their arguments from lawyers of Job Sikhala and prosecutors in Court J.
The Judge opted for Court J instead of the usual bail court F because she wanted a Court with recorders. The bail hearing scheduled to commence at 14:15 hrs started late around 15:30hrs.
Everyone was worried on the cause of the inordinate delay.
When the matter started the Court room was full and journalists had to stand in the corridor to follow proceedings. After arguments by lawyers from both sides Justice Ndewere went back to her office.
We noticed strange things happening and we whispered among ourselves as journalists about, who the people who followed Justice Ndewere to her offices.
We later understood that these were not ordinary people. They were state security agents from Munhumutapa Building, who we gathered threatened Justice Ndewere on the dire consequences if she dare grant Job Sikhala bail.
They went to show her some documents outlining her transgressions during her tenure as a judge, some of them ridiculous to contemplate or believe.
They alleged that she used her Assistant to write judgements on her behalf and that they will come for her if she grants Job Sikhala bail.
We wanted to break the news but my Editor told us that the story might jeopardize Job Sikhala’s chances of getting bail. We left it there.
Again something strange happened that the Judge hesitated to give her ruling on the on the bail appeal for a period spanning a week and half. Bail judgements are generally given immediately after arguments by lawyers and prosecutors, but Job Sikhala’s bail ruling was delivered after one and half weeks. This should have attracted the inquisitive mind of Zimbabweans.
On the day of the bail ruling, Justice Ndewere announced that she will deliver her judgment at 1400hrs. People who came were directed to go to Court A, the largest Court room at the High Court.
The Court was full to the gallery by the time announced for the ruling. All Job Sikhala’s family, friends and colleagues were waiting for the judgement only for another inordinate delay to take place. The Judge invited Job Sikhala’s lawyers and the state public prosecutor to come to her office. They came back and told everyone to wait as the judge was finishing editing her judgment putting comas and full stops. People had to wait until 16:46hrs for the Judge to enter the Courtroom.
From her first sentence to the last full stop she was castigating the police and the Magistrate who heard the matter at Rotten Row for serious misdirections committed.
It could be noticed that the Judge was hiding her judgment from uninvited external forces. After the delivery of her judgment we obtained information that, she received a telephone call from the Chief Justice Malaba who shouted at her over her judgment. Her life was never the same since then. She became a loner at the Court hounded by the threats thrown at her by the Chief Justice Malaba.