DESPITE being a vocal and fearless member of Parliament, Job Sikhala is a father of nine and the family is feeling the heat on his nearly 100-day incarceration.
All his children are still in school and most of them are used to having their father personally driving them to their learning centres but this term has been a sorrowful one without him.
They had to find their way to school and the burden has been on the mother, Ellen, who now has begun showing signs of depression, especially with events of last week when Sikhala was taken ill amid poisoning fears while at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Sikhala was arrested in June together with colleague lawmaker Godfrey Sithole and the Nyatsime 16 and have been behind bars without trial.
Their arrest came after the murder of Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali, who was found dead in a shallow well after going missing in the hands of a Zanu PF activist.
“I realised that the depression my wife is going through has been occasioned by her assumption of some huge responsibilities of taking care of our young family by herself,” Sikhala wrote from prison last week.
The vocal legislator’s spokesperson Freddy Masarirevu says Sikhala’s wife gets calls every day from people seeking updates of Sikhala’s case reminding her of her grim situation.
“She is trying to manage but each time she tries, she is constantly reminded of her challenges by people who call her asking about the case,” Masarirevu said.
On the children, Masarirevu said: “It’s obviously difficult for them to forget about what is happening to their father because of social media.”
Job Sikhala Jnr, the CCC interim deputy chairperson’s eldest son, who is following in his footsteps and studying law at the University of Zimbabwe, has been a regular face at the courts and showed signs of stress.
“He comes each and every time anticipating that something may happen. Each time however, the results are the same,” Masarirevu, a human rights lawyer, said.
Sikhala has applied for bail over five times, to no avail, as the court repeatedly keeps him detained without trial.
There is strong suspicion his case is political and, last week, constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku suggested dialogue between CCC leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa to secure Sikhala’s release.
Sikhala, according to his lawyers, is being treated like a hardcore criminal together with Sithole.
They are chained with leg irons, treatment usually reserved for notorious inmates.
Masarirevu said well-wishers and close family members have been coming in to assist the Sikhala family, including raising fees for the big family.
He said the CCC leadership has also come with initiatives to ensure the family is taken care of.