Court Watch 02-2023 Job Sikhala Trial for Obstruction of Justice: Progress Report


[13th April 2023]

Job Sikhala Trial for Obstruction of Justice: Progress Report

Preliminary Note

Mr Job Sikhala, MP for Zengeza West and Deputy National Chairman of the CCC party, is currently on trial for two offences, namely obstructing the course of justice and inciting public violence.

In this Court Watch we are going to outline progress so far in his trial for obstructing the course of justice and will deal with the other trial in a later bulletin.  We shall save any comments on the case until after judgment has been delivered.  Nor will we comment on the fact that Mr Sikhala was denied bail and has been kept in custody since his arrest in July last year, more than eight months ago.  We shall comment on that in another bulletin.

Background to the Case

On the 11th June 2022 the body of Ms Moreblessing Ali, an active member of the opposition CCC party, was found in Beatrice after she had been missing for two weeks.  Her body had been mutilated and it seemed clear she had been murdered.  Mr Job Sikhala took on the role of the family’s lawyer in the matter and he is alleged to have issued a statement saying that Ms Ali was murdered by members of the ruling ZANU-PF party.  The statement was recorded and circulated on social media as a video.

On the 12th July 2022 Mr Sikhala was arrested for obstructing the course of justice, the allegation being that Mr Sikhala’s videoed statement interfered with their investigation into the murder of Ms Ali.

Mr Sikhala was placed on remand and was denied bail on the ground that he had a “propensity to commit similar offences”.

The Trial

The trial began in the Harare Regional Magistrates Court on the 6th December 2022.

The charge and plea

Mr Sikhala was charged with obstructing the course of justice in terms of section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [the Criminal Law Code].  The relevant parts of section 184 read as follows:

“(1)  Any person who—

(a) by any act or omission, causes judicial proceedings to be defeated or obstructed, intending to defeat or obstruct the proceedings or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the proceedings may be defeated or obstructed;

 shall be guilty of defeating or obstructing the course of justice …

 (2)  for the purposes of subsection (1), and without limiting that provision in any way—

(a) …

(b) judicial proceedings … are obstructed when the judicial proceedings … are impeded or interfered with in any way.”

The charge alleged that Mr Sikhala knew the police were investigating the commission of a crime, or realised there was a real risk or possibility that they were investigating one, but nonetheless caused their investigations to be defeated or obstructed by indicating that Ms Ali was murdered by ZANU PF members.

Mr Sikhala’s lawyers initially excepted [i.e. objected] to the charges, but on the 13th December;  their exception was rejected by the magistrate.  Mr Sikhala then pleaded not guilty.

The State case

The prosecutors led evidence from three witnesses and produced what purports to be a copy of the offending video and a transcription of it.  They closed their case on the 3rd March, whereupon Mr Sikhala’s lawyers applied for the court to discharge him – i.e. to find him not guilty – without hearing further evidence.

Decision on discharge

According to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, after the prosecutor has finished leading evidence for the State, he or she must close the State case.  If at that stage the court considers the State’s evidence is insufficient to prove that the accused person committed the alleged crime, the court must discharge him without requiring him to lead evidence.  A court will do this if:

  • there is no evidence to prove an essential element of the offence charged
  • there is no evidence on which a reasonable court acting carefully might properly convict the accused person, or
  • the evidence presented on behalf of the State is so unreliable that no reasonable court can act on it.

On the 21st March the magistrate ruled that on the face of it the elements of the offence had been proved at least on a balance of probabilities.  It could not be said that the State’s evidence was so manifestly unreliable that it could be rejected outright.  She therefore dismissed the application for discharge and the trial continued. 

The defence case

On the 21st March 2023, Mr Sikhala gave evidence and denied making the video.  Mr Sikhala’s brother also gave evidence, saying that they were together on the date the video was allegedly made; he confirmed that Mr Sikhala did not make it.

On the 3rd April a Mr Olaf Koschke, a lecturer at UNESCO Television Centre in the United States, gave evidence.  He is a video editing and filmmaking expert.  He testified that the video presented by the State had been tampered with and was not an original video;  he maintained that it had been doctored.

After Mr Koschke’s evidence the defence closed its case.


The magistrate said that the final judgment would be handed down on the 28th April.

To be Continued

As we indicated earlier, this bulletin seeks to give the public clarity on the facts and progress of the case.  Once the final judgment is delivered, Veritas will be at liberty to comment on the case and the way it has been conducted.

Download File: