JOURNALIST Hopewell Chin’ono has been granted bail at the High Court after languishing at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for 17 days.
High Court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that his old bail conditions will apply on the latest application.
Chin’ono has also been ordered not to use his Twitter account to post stuff which defeats the course of justice.
He was arrested early this month for allegedly defeating the course of justice.
This was after he tweeted that suspended Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya would be granted bail at the Magistrates’ Courts.
Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport while attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai.
In his judgment on Chin’ono’s latest bail appeal, Chitapi said Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa erred when she denied him bail. The magistrate had agreed with the state that the journalist had “propensity” to commit crimes if granted his appeal for freedom.
“It is tried at law that the guilty verdict is only reached upon finalisation of the trial. The magistrate erred in reaching the decision to deny him bail basing only on reasonable suspicion,” said Justice Chitapi adding Chin’ono was not facing a serious offence.
“I have already found out that it’s not a third schedule offence. I agree with Mrs. (Beatrice) Mtetwa that there should be more than one offence to talk about propensity. It is wrong to talk about propensity and leave it like that.
“In the absence of other submissions militating against the accused, I do not find any grounds justifying the denial of bail.”
Mtetwa is Chin’ono’s lawyer and is being assisted by Gift Mtisi and Douglas Coltart.
The judge also concurred with Mtetwa’s submissions that Chin’ono could not run away leaving his house to be confiscated by the state.
“The submission by Mrs. Mtetwa makes sense. The appellant risks losing out his property and money if he absconds and it is this court’s finding that he cannot risk losing his property.”
Chin’ono was already on a $10 000 bail plus stringent reporting conditions. Title deeds for his Chisipite home are also being held by the clerk of court as surety.
The journalist has a pending case of incitement after he was arrested in July ahead of the anti-corruption demonstrations targeted at government by the opposition and its allies.