Detained Job Sikhala, who has been languishing at Chikurubi Maximum Prison for more than 150 days managed a smile today in court as he talked to his youngest son aged 5 years.
The visibly tormented young boy took a long and fixed stare at his father wondering why dad was no longer coming back home ‘after work’ to be with him. His innocent mind doesn’t seem to understand that ‘his father’s freedom has been usurped from him by his political adversaries. He can’t even come to terms with the fact that his ‘old man’ is now under lock and key like ‘a dog’ and treated as a criminal even before conviction and without any trial.
The boy must be missing being lifted into the air by his tall mudhara the kind of treats which sons of his age get from their dads. The rolling of sweets in his little mouth must have slackened since his constant supplier is now banished to Chikurubi maximum Prison. Now he can’t enjoy the attention from his absent dad because he is not allowed to be home even though his rights entitle him to be at St Mary’s. And the young boy must be wondering why his role model dad and officer of the Courts is standing in the ‘dog’s box’ and removed from everyone else. The boy must have whispered to his dad who he last saw in June: “Let’s go home dad, where are you staying now? Get out of that enclosure dad and come to us,”
In protest, he must have said: “I will go with you wherever you are going if you are not coming home with me and mom.” This lowly newsman can’t understand why any child should go through such torture. Even though I consider myself to be strong hearted, but I could not stop tears from dripping down my face after bumping into this picture on twitter.
I am actual angry because I know the hell which the father and son are going through as they stare at each other. Imagine! The state has a weaker case against Sikhala and there are no justifications whatsoever for keeping the Zengeza West MP under lock and key at the expense of spending quality time with his young children and wife. My tongue is getting heavy as I write this piece as if Satan has danced on top of it. May be a knobkerrie in my boot can knock some sense in the heads of magistrates and judges who are failing to see the urgent need to unite Wiwa with his boy and wife. Those responsible for Wiwa’s unjustified political incarceration don’t seem to realise the amount of trauma they are visiting upon his young and innocent children. They are inflicting more damage to the children than Job Sikhala. Is it that they just don’t care or is one of their objectives or both?
The smiling and combative Sikhala is seemingly assuring his son that dad will be home soon, and everything will be well again. But deep down his heart, Sikhala must he hurting with anguish. No father would enjoy seeing his son under such circumstances. Being separated from young children is an emotional curse to any parent and which is beyond human tolerance. What kind of transgression has the former student leader committed to deserve such a vapid and rabid treatment? Post-humus fighting for Moreblessing Ali’s right to life? No! This can’t be correct. Let Sikhala go back to his children alive.
The dearly departed, Makgatho Lewanika Mandela was only 14 years old when his father, the late Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island jail in 1964 to start a life sentence after being convicted of treason. During visits to his dad in jail, young Makgatho would turn to liquor to manage his emotions, despite the support he enjoyed from the family, ANC and civic organizations. Jail guards revealed stories of how Makgatho will pitch up drunk at the Island Correctional Facility to see his incarcerated dad. In some incidents, the young man had to take gulps of vodka by the jail gate to sooth his rebelling emotions. It is not a walk in the park for a child to see dad in chains. Not at all! Makgatho was 14 years old and Wiwa ‘son in this picture is only five years. With the half-hearted support which Wiwa is getting from the CCC, one could imagine the toll which his continued detention has on Wiwa’s family. The tacit support which Sikhala is enjoying from his wife Ellen Sikhala, friends and lawyers filled the devoid left by CCC.
This picture captures the devastating effects which Sikhala’s continued incarceration has on his young children. Sikhala’s 152 days of detention without trial serves to expose the extent to which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is prepared to go in pursuit of self-preservation using the courts as a weapon to fight his political battles. If the treatment of Sikhala is anything to go by, one would be forgiven to think that Wiwa is a mass murderer whose release will endanger the whole communities of Chitungwiza and Nyatsime. Instead, the opposite is the truth. Both communities and beyond want him back home in one piece to be with this boy. Trumped up charges of inciting violence for simply representing the family of the murdered Moreblessing Ali warrant a police bail and should have spared him the 152 days of detention and several unsuccessful bail applications in both Magistrate and High Courts. The State’s case against Sikhala is so weak and wholly premised on politics and shall collapse like a deck of cards upon trial. Could this be reason why the actual trial is failing to take off? The trial was supposed to start this week, but flimsy excuses were advanced to justify a postponement. The fiery politician’s bail application was supposed to be heard this Friday, but load shedding was conveniently employed as a justification for a postponement to 21 November 2022.
Sikhala has been denied bail eight times while his co-accused and colleague Godfrey Sithole was released recently after spending 149 days in Chikurubi. The other 14 were also released on 15 November while Sikhala remains locked up at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Sithole, Sikhala and 14 others were arrested on 14 June on accusations of inciting unrest after the murder and slain off CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.
Ali was missing for three weeks before her dismembered body was found in an abandoned well in Beatrice, a farming community in Mashonaland East Province.
This lowly newsman hopes that Sikhala will join his family again next Monday.
Signing off by my own hand