CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers Job Sikhala and Godfrey Karakadzai Sithole, arrested on Wednesday for inciting public violence, are challenging the jurisdiction of their trial.
The two appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Godfrey Mandaza in an anti-corruption court.
Through their lawyer Jeremiah Bamu, who is assisted by Alec Muchadehama, the two men said that Mandaza had no power to hear their case because allegations had been raised in Nyatsime, in the province of Eastern Mashonaland.
They also said that cases of incitement to commit violence should be heard by an ordinary magistrate and not by a special court.
“Both have asked me to object to the jurisdiction of this tribunal on two main grounds, namely that it is an anti-corruption tribunal.
“It deals with issues like bribery and corruption.
“He is not designed and has not been given jurisdiction to deal with other criminal cases.”
Bamu said the defense asked the state for an explanation but got no response.
“The fact that the NPA is bringing this case to an anti-corruption tribunal without explaining why it should not be before the magistrate’s court gives the defendant the right to oppose it.
“There is no particular reason why the defendants were brought to appear in Harare,” Bamu said.
“The state deliberately avoided Mashonaland East Court and the Magistrates Court and resorted to an anti-corruption court for no reason other than forum shopping,” he said.
Bamu also said that special arrangements had to be made for his clients’ files to be opened after the official set time, which raises suspicions.
In response, prosecutor Michael Reza said these proceedings were only for pretrial detention, as any court could handle that process.
He said the objection falls because the two will not be tried by the same court.
Reza said the defense knew that Chitungwiza fell under the Northern Region, as such even a case that happened in Mutare can be heard in Harare.
“Many cases were opened even after 4 p.m., so there is nothing unusual or illegal,” Reza said.
The magistrate ruled that both were duly before him as any regional case can be heard by any regional court.