Sikhala’s long journey back to St Mary’s
In the gloom of the night, cars hooted and jubilant supporters cheered and whistled on the streets of St Mary’s township in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town near Harare as Job Sikhala marched home with a sizeable procession behind him.
After clocking 595 days in pre-trial detention, the Zengeza West ex-legislator and opposition leader was finally set free by a Harare judge late afternoon on Tuesday 30 January 2024. He walked away with a two-year wholly suspended sentence.
Together with fellow Chitungwiza North lawmaker Godfrey Sithole, the duo had been convicted of inciting political violence following an incident of violence that took place during the funeral wake of an opposition party activist who had been found heinously murdered after some days of missing.
Both Sikhala and Sithole had pleaded not guilty to the offenses.
FREEDOM COMES AT NIGHT
While it was expected his effective release from jail would be on the morning of the following day, Sikhala was Nicodemusly ejected from the high walls of Chikurubhi Maximum Prison compound and left in the open by the roadside, where he had to wait for his legal team and compatriots to arrive and take him home.
According to Sikhala, the prison authorities didn’t give him a chance to pick up all his things from the cell that had been his home for nearly two years.
A HEROES WELCOME
Upon reaching Zengeza junction, about a kilometer from his house, Sikhala disembarked from the car that was shuttling him home to join the throngs of supporters who had gathered along the way to welcome him. Waving torches from their mobile phones, they chanted “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” and “Wiwa! Wiwa! Wiwa!” as the hulky politician walked the over one kilometer remaining distance to his home. “Wiwa” is Sikhala’s nickname, after Ken Saro- Wiwa, a Nigerian political activist who was executed by hanging in the 1990s by General Sani Abacha, the country’s military ruler at that time.
He took time to address the crowd gathered outside the walls of his home, where he enunciated his resolve to fight for the democratic cause in Zimbabwe inspite of all the persecution he has endure. He also spoke about the conditions inside the dark grey walls of Chikurubhi Maximum Prison, which he said were “torturous”.
Earlier on, in an interview with the NewsHawks, Sikhala indicated that he will issue a statement to the nation and the world at large, informing on his way forward in as far as politics is concerned. Before his arrest, Job Sikhala was one of the leading figures in the main opposition outfit , Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) fronted by Nelson Chamisa. He has been in opposition trenches for many years, and some tout him as a befitting replacement to Nelson Chamisa, who recently resigned from the party he formed in January 2023.