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195 arrested during Valentines Day protests, 50 beaten, Bertha remains in custody

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members in Harare and Bulawayo conducted their traditional Valentine’s Day protests and both protests were marred by beatings and arrests. This is the 11th year WOZA has conducted such a protest and this year’s theme is under the theme – One Love.  One hundred and ninety five were arrested then released after some hours but one woman remains in custody.

At 2 o’clock on 13 February 2013, Harare members marched towards parliament in two separate formations.  Riot Police based at Parliament disrupted the both protests and fired 5 canisters of tear gas to disperse the over 1000 strong protest sending members and bystanders scurrying for cover. Many people were affected by the tear gas and some children were seen crying. Business came to a standstill due to this indiscriminate use of force to disrupt a peaceful protest.

Over 25 members had to seek medical attention including the 8 members who were arrested at parliament and beaten by the 8 Riot police during the 20 minute wait for the police van to take them into custody. A ninth bystander a male, had his cell phone taken and was separated from the others and beaten for over 20minutes between the police reaction group headquarters in Harare’s Cramborne Barracks and Harare Central police station.

The 8 arrested were Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa, Hilda Murapa, Enia Mazambare, Tambudzai Manangazira, Siphetheni Ndlovu and Maria Majoni. As the women arrived at the Police station, the receiving police officer chided his uniformed colleagues for ‘arresting WOZA’ and told them to take them away. For over 2 hours no progress was made and it was unclear if the 8 were in detention or not but their liberty was obviously curtailed. After they were release all 9 including the bystander spent another 3 hours lodging a formal complaint about the beatings, tear gas and abuse they had suffered. A police report number is available for the complaint. All nine then were taken to hospital for treatment and x-rays for the brutality meted out on them at Parliament.

On 14February 2013 members in Bulawayo conducted their Valentine’s Day protest. Members decided to march to the police Headquarters in 9th Avenue, at Southampton House. Members wanted to demand that the Police respond to formal complaints about police beatings and brutality. Police brutality prevailed during a Water protest on 12 November. WOZA then marched to hand over a protest on 29 November but no response was forthcoming.

The 4pm protest began with smoothly but when the 8 protest groups number 800 members neared Southampton house, Riot police swooped and began indiscriminately beating members. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu managed to regroup the protest and after many skirmishes managed to get the members to sit down on the pavement so that official proceedings could begin. As this began senior ranking officers repeated order for Riot officer to beat the two activists who were still recovering from the Harare protest assault.  Police officers began arresting any male person they observed with a camera, numbering 6.

The police boss then requested Williams to go upstairs to the officer to dialogue with the police provincial leadership. After obtaining assurances that nothing would befall the members and that the 6 men arrested would return with Williams, her and a colleague went upstairs.

The meeting was to be short-lived as the officers were obviously not cooperative and kept blocking progress by insisting on a formal letter requesting an appointment to receive feedback on the many complaint letters.  The meeting came to an abrupt end when Williams was telephoned by Magodonga Mahlangu to say all the participants had been arrested by the Riot Reaction group and taken to the Bulawayo Central Police station. Williams then walked out of the meeting and handed herself into custody with 179 other members. The 6 male members were also still in custody at Southampton house.

The same police bosses who had attempted to meet Williams, then arrived at the station and misled the meeting with Williams had been fruitful and that they did not know why or how the members came to be in the police station but that they should leave immediately. Williams then addressed members say they would leave police custody but only if the missing 6 male members were also released as they had all been together. Without any further dialogue the officers barked order to the Riot Reaction group to remove the 180 members forthwith from the police station.  A few members were then beaten again.

It transpired that of the six men that remained in custody only 1 is a WOZA members, the others bystanders who took photos of the protest. They were this night tortured by intelligence agents and then released home for the night with instructions to return at 9am on 15 February.

The woman, Bertha Sibanda is in custody for ‘indecent exposure’. She was one of the 180 in custody and she stripped naked in the police station in frustration at not having her complaints addressed. She is one of the 11 members who were in a Water protest that police violently disturbed and was subjected to tribal insults about Gukurahundi when she lost family to this massacre. complaint police harrasment to ZRP 13nov incident and Follow up letter 14 Feb13 police complaint

Meanwhile 6 members had medical attention, one of who has to have 3 teeth pulled due to batons stick injury to her mouth. Several members have reported being called by police officers requesting information about the protest plans and made the offer of money for information. Two of the calls were made from Bulawayo number 60248 Code (00 263 9). WOZA suspect this number to be of an intelligence office. WOZA invite activism to assist us in holding this intelligence office accountable for harassment and beating of WOZA members in an attempt to curtail their right to protest.

WOZA handed over their demands contained in the February 2013 Woza Moya Newsletter.  Woza Moya Feb 2013

16 Masvingo members released – 2 more arrested

The 16 members, six women and nine men, arrested on Tuesday afternoon for playing netball and football were all finally released this afternoon. Police harassment of WOZA continued however as two other members, Winnie Sadeya and Eurita Singemde, were arrested at lunchtime whilst taking in food to the group. The two women are still in custody tonight.

Six members, who had been tortured and were in a lot of pain, paid admission of guilt fines and were released earlier today. Three of these members received medical attention; two for beatings on the soles of their feet and the third potentially has a broken hand from beaten with a baton stick.

The circumstances of the release of the remaining ten were not clear as the support team awaiting their release had to leave town after being chased by Law and Order officers. The lawyer had indicated that when was leaving the station, the group had been instructed to remain behind to await a lecture by Dispol (the district police authority) about their behaviour. It seems that the authorities in Masvingo are extremely rattled by social netball and football – sports fans beware!

WOZA and CSOs march Dont DiscriminHATE march

AT 10am 7 May 1400 members from Bulawayo civic organisations including WOZA members marched to demand an apology from President Robert Mugabe for tribal slurs made at the SADC summit.

First stop after the march started was at the Human Rights Commission offices along Fife Street. Commissioners did not come out to address the peaceful citizens. Fortunately an ‘early bird’ had already dropped in before the protest to deliver the petition.

The procession then proceeded to the Mhlahlandlela government complex to deliver a petition to government to disassociate themselves with the president’s insults. At the complex 12 anti-riot police officers blocked the gate into the complex refusing to allow any delegation to go in to hand over the petition to the resident minister Ms. Sandi or welcome her to address the crowd. Fortunately a copy had already made its way by early bird into her office.

Members sang song calling for unity of all Zimbabweans and an end to discrimination. Several civic leaders address the crowd calling for the president to apologise soon. Leaders also detailed the long track record of tribal and racial discrimination suffered by Zimbabweans and said enough was enough.

A young Kalanga lady speaking in the Kalanga language also addressed the crowd. She said that it was Mugabe’s intention to push people out of Zimbabwe that is why he has dis-invested the building of schools in Matabeleland causing challenges in people of Matabeleland getting an education.

The procession peacefully dispersed with police officers remaining in position at the government complex gate.

WOZA wish to thank the Zimbabwe Republic Police for practising restraint today unlike the Valentine’s Day procession where they forcefully pushed WOZA members out to the industrial area beating those who tried to divert to their commuter points.
CSOs Petition to the Human Rights Commission of Zimbabwe

CSOs Petition to the Government of Zimbabwe

People’s Charter Endorsement

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I, the undersigned, hereby declare my endorsement for the People’s Charter launched by Zimbabweans and delivered to Parliament on 12 December 2006. We join Zimbabweans in calling upon all leaders in Zimbabwe to end their selfish bickering and focus their energy on delivering what the people want. The people have spoken and we will help amplify their voices as they face daily hardship, poverty and tyranny. Actions speak louder than words!

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Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) » Sisterhood Bond – Ndebele

Isibopho Sabomama (Sisterhood Bond)

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WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE – WOZA
P. O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo
By Women for Women and with Women, across Race, Colour, Creed, Class or Political Persuasion. Empowering Women to be Courageous, Caring, Committed and in Communication with their Communities.

WOZA SISTERS
ISIBOPHO SABOMAMA

 

Ibizo Lami ……………………………………………………………………………………………

Ngiyathembisa ukuthi ngizasebenza kanzima ukuthi ngimele njalo ngixhase odadewethu. Ngizakuba lesandla ekuxhaseni odadewethu kumzabalazo, simanyene sizafika kubanga linye lozulu wonke. Simanyene njalo, sizaletha ukuthula, ukwahlulelwa okusobala, le ngqubela phambili ye Zimbabwe.

Njengokuqhubeka komzabalazo wethu, ngizaqhubeka ngilandela izinqumo lezi:

  1. Ngizakhuluma kuzwakale, kumbe santando, ngikhuthaza amanye amakhosikazi ukuthi enze okufanayo. Njalo ilizwi labo lizwakale bangafi bethule. “Umtwana ongakhaliyo ufela embelekweni”.
  2. Ukubuthana labanye ngokuthula njalo sixoxa ngokuthi sizakwenzani ngokusihluphayo, kulokuthi sihlale sikhonona kuphela.
  3. Ngibelihlombe lokweyama kulabo abahlukuluzekileyo, njalo ngilalelisise. “Udubo oluchathekelenweyo luba yingxenye”.
  4. Ngitshengise uthando lesibindi ngekhaya lesigabeni ukuze ngisuse ukwesaba okusebantwini.
  5. Amakhosikazi ngomama besizwe, ngakho kumele baqakathekiswe.
  6. Ukuba ngummeli wokungabi lodlakela, ukuze abantu babone ukuthi singenelisa ukuhluza okusihluphayo ngokuthula.
  7. Ukudinga kanye lokusekela abanye omama abalombono ofanayo.
  8. Ukwazi lokwesaba uNkulunkulu, kanye lokukhuthaza izenzo eziphakamisa impilakahle yomoya.
  9. Ukukhankasela ukubaluleka ekwenzeni, lokubekezelela imbono lemicabango eyehlukeneyo.
  10. “Ukulimala koyedwa, yikulimala kwethu sonke”

Ngiyathembisa!

Yimi: ………………………………………………… Mhlaka: …………………………………………

Umfakazi: ………………………………………… Umfakazi: ……………………………………

Copyright © 2004

Statement on International Women’s Day and death of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai

As the world, including Zimbabwe, commemorates International Women’s Day, members of WOZA find little to celebrate.

As organisations, both local and international, take the opportunity afforded by International Women’s Day to speak out about the need for gender equality, respect for women’s right and an end to violence, WOZA joins the chorus. Yet we understand that women in Zimbabwe, and Africa as a whole, need much more than rhetoric – they need action. And actions speak louder than words.

The current situation of the ordinary woman in Zimbabwe is heartbreaking.

She only lives until the age of 34 because the Mugabe regime killed a perfectly good health system. She can hardly access antiretroviral treatment and even if she does, the three meals a day she needs to take them with is impossible. She cannot put a full nutritious meal on the table for her family because Zimbabwe is no longer the breadbasket of Africa but its basket case. She cannot afford to buy food even if it is available because the Mugabe regime put the economy in intensive care and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono put a bullet to its head when he started to remove zeros without comprehensive reforms.

A mother is always preoccupied with a better future for her children so that she can dream about sitting in the shade and being looked after for a change. But the prospects for this have been thrown out of the window by the destruction of the education system by the Mugabe regime. Educating children was already a challenge previously but in 2008 it became a form of torture for parents. Teachers left, school buildings deteriorated, text and exercise books disappeared to be sold on the streets for exorbitant prices. Government did not even bother to buy chalk, and this burden, along with that of paying teachers, fell on the parents’ shoulders.

Zimbabwe, in the throes of a political and governance crisis, failed to safeguard the rights of children to an education and their right to a better future. The untold story of Zimbabwe is the impact of the crisis on the lives of our children – how these innocent souls will bear the terrible burden of our adult hatred and intolerance.

In Zimbabwe there is now an ‘inclusive’ government but whilst it includes opposing political parties it falls far short of including women who take the time to speak out for women’s equality. WOZA does not feel represented by the mere fact that there are some women in political office. We want women to use their position to engage and consult women and further our combined interests.  If one takes the time to study the 15th September 2008 Global Political Agreement, rhetoric about women’s representation abounds but they appear to be words without meaning.

Three weeks after the inauguration of this government and 29 years after so-called Independence, women are still not fairly represented in most spheres in Zimbabwe. Peaceful protest is broken up by men armed with baton sticks and women who are simply demanding their constitutional rights are beaten, arrested and detained.

On 9th March 2009, two WOZA leaders will be in the dock in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court facing a possible five years in prison for demanding political leaders allow free access to food aid for starving Zimbabweans. In the words of a police officer, this was a crime of ‘exciting people’. In a justice system backlogged for years, with thousands of Zimbabweans in prison and unable to be fed or brought to court, the fact that this case has been prioritised is further proof that women human rights defenders continue to be harassed and intimidated merely for speaking out on behalf of their families.

So a year after WOZA members were beaten and arrested in Bulawayo whilst commemorating International Women’s Day, we still do not find anything in our hearts to celebrate. Instead we use this occasion to remind our leaders that actions speak louder than words. And to light a candle against the darkness so as to guide our steps on the road to a socially just Zimbabwe. WOZA will continue to demand bread and roses, a full enjoyment of all our social, economic, cultural and political rights and the social justice that will restore our dignity as women. By continuing to take the step forward, perhaps by the next International Women’s Day, we will have something to celebrate.

Mrs Susan Tsvangirai – WOZA mourns the loss of a mother to the nation

Our troubled hearts are further burdened and saddened by the untimely death of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai.  WOZA was looking forward to Susan being the mother to the nation that we have long waited for. We witnessed her dignity and strength in standing by the side of her husband during their 31 years of marriage and understand the unexpressed pain she must have endured watching her husband suffer at the hands of a brutal regime. We had hoped and prayed that she would enjoy a semblance of peace at his side as a mother of the nation. The loss of this mother of six and tower of strength to her husband is a shocking blow to the nation and all Zimbabwean women. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the Prime Minister, their children who have lost their mother and rest of their family. May her soul rest in blessed peace at last.

WOZA deliver 100 days demands list to Parliament in three-pronged peaceful protests

AT noon central Harare came alive with singing of members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA). The protests started simultaneously from three different directions arriving in waves at the parliament entrance. The protests were conducted to hand over a list of demands to legislature in the power-sharing government. All three protests were conducted peacefully and no arrests have been recorded at this time.

At parliament the activists spent some minutes handing over the demands newsletter and handing over their placards to the security guards and some Senators who were at the door of parliament. The previous song – “Government don’t torment us” changed to “We have lost patience, we are tired of waiting for change”.

After some minutes a police officer made a sign to disperse us. A signal was then given for the activists to disperse peacefully. As this was happening someone identified as an intelligence officer came forwards and started to ask – ‘what is your message?’; taking this as a delaying tactic, the newsletter was placed in his hands. He then became insulting and discriminating, saying – ‘don’t these women have husbands’. It is
likely he is the same officer who then instructed officers who arrived in a police pickup to look around town for Jenni Williams and arrest her.

At least 2 truckloads of Riot police arrived after the protest had dispersed and finding noone they kept circling the CDB. Several times in the past they have arrested members at the bus terminus. As one protest went past a bank, vendors seen being chased by municipal police, proof of continued harassment.

The placards being carried had the following messages – ‘give our children an education- urgent’; ‘Restore the rule of law’, ‘police stop harassing us’. In the Harare consultation the top 3 priorities members wanted the government to address are: Fix the education system; Create employment and opportunities and Restore the healthcare system (full list follows).

Bystanders came forward to accept the newsletters and give words of encouragement saying – WOZA women your message is correct; you have been quiet; – keep up your pressure until GNU delivers its promises.

The protest and the list of demands handed over to the government complex today follow wide consultations with members in Bulawayo and now in Harare, the consultations continue. The objective to keep WOZA members focusing on holding the power-sharing government accountable for the promises they make. These activities are a continuation of WOZA’s Take the Step campaign, designed to encourage Zimbabweans to continue with civic participation.

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) » Sisterhood Bond – Ndebele

Isibopho Sabomama (Sisterhood Bond)

Download this document
Word 97 version (145KB)
Acrobat PDF version (78KB)

View the English version
View the Shona version

WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE – WOZA
P. O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo
By Women for Women and with Women, across Race, Colour, Creed, Class or Political Persuasion. Empowering Women to be Courageous, Caring, Committed and in Communication with their Communities.

WOZA SISTERS
ISIBOPHO SABOMAMA

 

Ibizo Lami ……………………………………………………………………………………………

Ngiyathembisa ukuthi ngizasebenza kanzima ukuthi ngimele njalo ngixhase odadewethu. Ngizakuba lesandla ekuxhaseni odadewethu kumzabalazo, simanyene sizafika kubanga linye lozulu wonke. Simanyene njalo, sizaletha ukuthula, ukwahlulelwa okusobala, le ngqubela phambili ye Zimbabwe.

Njengokuqhubeka komzabalazo wethu, ngizaqhubeka ngilandela izinqumo lezi:

  1. Ngizakhuluma kuzwakale, kumbe santando, ngikhuthaza amanye amakhosikazi ukuthi enze okufanayo. Njalo ilizwi labo lizwakale bangafi bethule. “Umtwana ongakhaliyo ufela embelekweni”.
  2. Ukubuthana labanye ngokuthula njalo sixoxa ngokuthi sizakwenzani ngokusihluphayo, kulokuthi sihlale sikhonona kuphela.
  3. Ngibelihlombe lokweyama kulabo abahlukuluzekileyo, njalo ngilalelisise. “Udubo oluchathekelenweyo luba yingxenye”.
  4. Ngitshengise uthando lesibindi ngekhaya lesigabeni ukuze ngisuse ukwesaba okusebantwini.
  5. Amakhosikazi ngomama besizwe, ngakho kumele baqakathekiswe.
  6. Ukuba ngummeli wokungabi lodlakela, ukuze abantu babone ukuthi singenelisa ukuhluza okusihluphayo ngokuthula.
  7. Ukudinga kanye lokusekela abanye omama abalombono ofanayo.
  8. Ukwazi lokwesaba uNkulunkulu, kanye lokukhuthaza izenzo eziphakamisa impilakahle yomoya.
  9. Ukukhankasela ukubaluleka ekwenzeni, lokubekezelela imbono lemicabango eyehlukeneyo.
  10. “Ukulimala koyedwa, yikulimala kwethu sonke”

Ngiyathembisa!

Yimi: ………………………………………………… Mhlaka: …………………………………………

Umfakazi: ………………………………………… Umfakazi: ……………………………………

Copyright © 2004

Valentine’s Day Arrests – News update 11am

Bulawayo
Lawyers were finally allowed access again last night and were allowed to negotiate the release of 36 members into their custody. These included the mothers with babies, juveniles, pregnant women and one badly injured woman who was taken to receive medical attention. They have all reported back to Bulawayo Central this morning. The group was also split between 7 stations – these are Bulawayo Central, Mzilikazi, Donnington, Hillside, Nkulumane, Queens Park and Sauerstown.

Law and Order officers were also overheard briefing each other about a visit to Bulawayo Central by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). They were requesting that Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu be allowed to be abducted from police custody during the night and killed. Law and Order officers apparently replied that the two were not in custody. Jenni Williams had been in the Harare protest but had not been arrested. Magodonga Mahlangu was arrested in the Bulawayo protest, separated from the rest of the group and taken to Sauerstown Police Station. WOZA activists spent the night monitoring Sauerstown to ensure that no foul play occurred and are pleased to report that no attempts were made on her life. There remains concern for her safety however and lawyers are attempting to have her returned to the others.

Currently lawyers are in attendance in Bulawayo and warned and cautioned statements are being prepared. The group is being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 37, Section (2) – ‘participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, a breach of the peace or bigotry is committed whether the action constituting it is spontaneous or planned in advance, and whether the place or meeting where it occurred is public or private.’

Further investigation of the alleged torture has revealed that one youth, who was arrested for continuing to hand out roses after the demonstration had been broken up, was badly beaten in custody. He remains in custody without medical attention, as do several others who were beaten during their arrest. It also turns out that several members were picked up after the main arrests had occurred as they continued to hand out roses and Valentine cards to members of the public.

This morning when food was being brought to those arrested, officers at Mzilikazi Police Station refused to allow one woman on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to take her medication and at Queens Park, they were refusing to allow any medication, including ARV’s, to be taken without a clinic card being produced to prove that they had a legitimate medical reason to take the medication. Breakfast was also denied to those at Nkulumane Station as the group of 11 had been moved from Hillside Station during the night and their absence from Hillside was only discovered this morning. The support team located them at Nkulumane 30 minutes after their breakfast feeding time ended and that delay was sufficient to have food denied.

It also appears that the power of love has those that love power seriously concerned as two water cannons were evidence in Bulawayo yesterday to deal with WOZA’s love marchers.

Harare
Police have not as yet allocated an investigating officer and told lawyers that they should come back after lunch.

You can contact the police stations on the following numbers:

  • Bulawayo Central: (+263 9) 72515 / 61706
  • Mzilikazi: (+263 9) 202908 / 212905
  • Nkulumane: (+263 9) 476755 / 467039
  • Queens Park: (+263 9) 22641/2
  • Sauerstown: (+263 9) 200960 / 218432
  • Hillside: (+263 9) 241161/2
  • Donnington: (+263 9) 474005 / 467309
  • Harare Central: (+263 4) 77 77 77