Fearful Bulawayo magistrate denies Standard journalist bail

jailed_journoA Bulawayo magistrate denied Standard journalist Nqobani Ndlovu bail on Friday, because she is 'afraid of getting into trouble' if she released him without properly checking the facts.

Ndlovu was brought to court to face charges of criminal defamation, after he alleged that exams in the police were being scrapped to facilitate the absorption of war vets and retired officers back into the force ahead of next year’s elections. The scribe was arrested by the police in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

Magistrate Sibongile Msipa who presided over case, ruled that she needed ‘more time’ to go through submissions from the defence and prosecution teams before making a decision on the bail application. She remanded Ndlovu in custody to Monday 22nd November.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us the magistrate shocked the court when admitting she was not comfortable in granting Ndlovu his freedom, because of the ‘sensitivity’ of the case. Saungweme said; ‘She kept repeating the same words-I’m afraid I will get into trouble-when Ndlovu’s lawyer pressed her to release his client. We can only guess she takes instructions from her bosses otherwise judges and magistrates should be independent people.’

The state opposed bail after making submissions that Ndlovu might abscond as he was facing a very serious charge which attracted a prison term of 20 years. However Josephat Tshuma, Ndlovu’s lawyer, rubbished the state assertion that his client faced a prison term of 20 years. He told the magistrate a criminal defamation conviction carries a penalty of up to two years’

imprisonment, or an option of a fine. Tshuma argued that any penalty that attracted an option of a fine could not be considered too serious.

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