Former Zanu PF youth leader Jim Kunaka’s bid to escape jail flopped after Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko dismissed his application challenging placement on further remand for the second time.
Kunaka is being accused of attempting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government after he allegedly posted messages on his social media platforms inciting the public to partake in the January national shutdown.
Mateko dismissed Kunaka’s application saying he is facing “very serious” allegations and that he has not been on remand for a long time, the basis which his lawyer Job Sikhala was basing on.
“The record is saying that the accused has been on remand for over four months and he is facing a very serious offence… There has been no inordinate delays and will therefore move to dismiss this application,” magistrate Mateko said.
Mr Sikhala had challenged placement on further remand after prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa sought a postponement saying they are awaiting confirmation from the Postal Telecommunication and Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) to confirm the purported message originated from Kunaka.
He opposed the application and said the State has been using the same excuse the last seven times Kunaka appeared in court for routine remand.
“There is no justified reason why the accused should be continuously kept on remand on the basis of that excuse.
The state had undertaken to finish investigations within six weeks and record statements from four witnesses.
“No evidence has been brought before the court to show the statements have been recorded. It will be an insult to justice to appear again only to be told of the same excuse,” he said.
Sikhala linked the Kunaka’s case to the Adolf Hitler’s Nazi system where the judiciary system was used to persecute political opponents, adding that most January protests related cases were resolved over four months ago.
“One wonders what is so special about this case for the State to take six months to investigate, if there is any case. The overzealous nature of how accused was arrested in the early hours of January 17 should have been the same zeal in which the State pursued this matter.
The court must reject and refuse to collude with the State in trampling the fundamental human rights of the accused…I urge this court to exercise its mandate without fear or favour,” Sikhala said, adding that the State will suffer no prejudice if they removed Kunaka from remand and proceed by summons once it has put its house in order.
Kunaka will be back in court on August 1.