Harare regional magistrate Tafadzwa Miti has handed down suspended two-year prison sentences to CCC members Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole for their roles in inciting political violence in Nyatsime last year.
The duo were found to have encouraged retaliation against the killing of CCC supporter Moreblessing Ali in 2022. They allegedly ferried party supporters from surrounding areas to commit acts of violence in Nyatsime, resulting in damaged property and displaced families.
In court yesterday, Miti acknowledged Sikhala had already spent considerable time behind bars awaiting trial, while Sithole was granted bail after five months in remand detention. Considering this and their lack of prior offenses, the magistrate suspended the two-year sentences for five years on condition of good behaviour.
CCC lawyer Harrison Nkomo said the ruling means his client Sikhala will now be discharged from prison. However, he plans to appeal the underlying conviction in the High Court.
Prosecutors claimed the political violence in Nyatsime left 20 families homeless and caused extensive damage to 13 shops, six tuck shops and vehicles. But the defence argued Sikhala and Sithole’s social media posts alone did not prove they directly incited or planned the reported acts.
With their freedom hinging on avoidance of further similar cases, the suspended sentences offer a compromise that recognizes the leaders’ pre-trial detention while still finding them culpable in the disputed Nyatsime unrest. Their appeal could yet challenge the court’s final view of the events.