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Bertha to spend weekend in custody

Bulawayo members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who were arrested and beaten continued to seek medical attention. Five where remained in custody last night were 4 men and 1 woman. The men were released but Bertha Sibanda was detained and remains in custody at Bulawayo Central Police Station. All of those arrested were denied access to food delivered by WOZA leader Jenni Williams. The officer in charge of Bulawayo foolishly told Williams that the 5 were not hungry.

Bertha Sibanda is charged with contravening section 132 of the Code that is publicly exposing herself and being a nuisance. She was very traumatised by the police refusal to respond to WOZA’s formal complaint about her treatment in a Water protest on 12 November 2012. She joined the Valentines Days protest in order to follow up on the complaint. The events of that day were similar to the Wednesday in Harare and Thursday in Bulawayo situation whereby junior officers indiscriminately arrest WOZA members, then the senior officers refused to allow the arrests. In November instead of recognising the mistake with humility, they bundled her and 10 others into a vehicle and dumped them at a cemetery out of town. Just as she did on Valentine’s Day, Bertha and her colleagues had undergone severe beating, tribal insults by police officer Mukoshi. WOZA have since demanded he be disciplined but this request has been ignored.

Also during the protest, a male member Lucky Ncube was arrested. Although he was never charged with anything, his crime seemed to be having a camera. He was later released at 11pm with the 3 bystanders who had also taken photographs. During the evening in custody, he was taken Law and Order Department room 5. Whilst there he was made to him remove his trousers as a humiliation. He was also made to remove his shoes and beaten with whip under his feet. This type of torture is termed ‘falanga’. Its common use if to inflict pain without evidence of bruising as the soles of the feet hide such injury. The officer suspected to have conducted this torture is Z. Moyo. Lucky was also asked if he knows the party Zanu PF and accused of trying to discredit Zanu PF by publishing photographs. He was threatened that Zanu PF is the party that can spill blood which is the language often used by police officers who have become partisan. He was then released at 11pm and followed by police officers for several city blocks until he managed to obtain transport to go home. It is assumed that the police officers wanted to determine if you would make contact with WOZA leaders including Jenni Williams who had been conducting a vigil outside the police station. At 10:30 pm, police officers had chased the women away.

The Valentine’s Day protest is part of the annual ‘love’ protest, this year’s theme is – One Love.  During the two protests in Harare and Bulawayo one hundred and ninety members were arrested plus 4 bystanders who simply took photos with their cameras. We estimate over 50 members were beaten with the hard rubber baton sticks that Riot Reaction Group police carry. WOZA medical support team have provided pain killers and muscle rub to most of these members but 13 had to attend for professional medical attention.  Two additional members had to be taken to the hospital today – one due to a blow to the head and another had 3 stitches to her inner lip and lost 3 teeth due to police beatings.

2 Masvingo members finally released

The two members arrested on Thursday whilst taking food into Masvingo Central Police Station have finally been released. They were not charged. Police had promised the lawyer that they would be released last night and then first thing this morning. They were finally released at noon.

The entire group of 18 members in total therefore spent two nights in custody for absolutely no reason than the repressive Zimbabwean regime appears to be terrified of its own citizens. Arbitrary arrest, beatings and torture are standard experiences of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, yet WOZA remains determined to continue with our nonviolent campaign for the social justice outlined in our People’s Charter.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. –Rabindranath Tagore

Public Declaration – School Fees Payment Boycott!

For the URGENT attention of: ALL Education Ministries, Cabinet, Parliament and Senate of Zimbabwe

The Government of Zimbabwe has directly retrogressed in its obligation to provide free primary education according to local, regional and international instruments. The State has made no effort to correct this retrogression even after including the right to education in the Constitution Bill of Rights.
The Laws relating to the right to education are all contained in the following
a) The right to education enjoys protection in international law. Section 26 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that, ‘Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory…’
b) The International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), in Article 13(2) (a) and (b), obliges states parties to make primary education compulsory and free, whereas secondary education “shall be made generally available and accessible”.
c) The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides for the right to education in Article 28. Article 28 (1) (a) places an obligation upon States parties to make primary education compulsory and free, whereas article 28(1) (b) requires states to make secondary education available and accessible to the child.
d) Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights stipulates that every individual shall have the right to education.
e) Zimbabwe has canvassed these international law principles through domestication which means bring these international laws into local laws. The Zimbabwean Constitution provides for the right to education in Section 27 which states that ‘the State shall take all practical measures to promote free and compulsory basic education for children…’ Further in the declaration of rights, Section 75 entitles ‘every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe to a basic State- funded education…’ The Education Act in Section 4 demands that ‘every child in Zimbabwe shall have the right to school education’.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) representing citizens countrywide, therefore wish to publicly advise the Government of Zimbabwe, Ministry Officials, School Officials and members of the School Development Associations and Committees of the following declarations.

1. Parents will cease to pay school fees and all levies for primary level from this point forward.
2. Parents also cancel all debts accrued.
3. For secondary schooling, only the USD 10 tuition fee and statutory stipulated USD 5 levy will be accepted and paid.
4. Demand that immediately through policy and practice stop disrespecting the right to compulsory free primary and secondary education. Additionally, the government should investigate and penalise teachers or school heads who practice discrimination by chasing children who can’t pay fees from schools and allow accessibility by all children;

Education is an inheritance and a right! It must be FREE! Imfundo yilifa njalo lilungelo – Dzidzo inhkaka nekodzero.
August 2016 school fees boycott Woza Moya

WOZA demonstrate in Harare – no WOZA arrests – three bystanders arrested

The three people arrested after the WOZA demonstration in Harare this afternoon were finally released at 5pm. They were accused of criminal nuisance and paid a fine of $40,000 under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Police had arrested them for allegedly taking photographs of the demonstration and have kept a camera in custody. The women have been asked to report at 10am tomorrow morning to collect the equipment.

Breaking news from WOZA

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) conducted a peaceful protest to Parliament at 1pm today. Over 300 members took part.

The protest was blocked metres away from Parliament by riot police who refused to allow the group to pass and deliver the People’s Charter to parliamentarians. The group was then asked to disperse whereupon they turned around and continued to demonstrate along Nelson Mandela towards the Zanu PF offices. A police vehicle with riot police followed the protest arriving in Angwa Street as the protest dispersed.

Riot police surrounded a Crisis Coalition vehicle, searching it before arresting three women in the vicinity who had not been in the protest. The women are said to be in the Law and Order department, Office 93, of Harare Central and lawyers have not managed to get access to determine who the women are or what the charges might be.

Although WOZA leaders led the protests and National Coordinator of WOZA, Jenni Williams, spent two minutes negotiating with the riot police to allow the group to proceed to the door of Parliament, they were not arrested. Some members at the back of the protest were accosted by police as they dispersed and asked by police where Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were. WOZA find it strange that bystanders were arrested instead of participants and wonder is it now a crime to watch a peaceful protest?

WOZA and MOZA members arrested in Harare May 28 still in custody

value_our_lives_080528_200×307.jpgA demonstration by WOZA and MOZA members in Harare on Wednesday May 28 resulted in the arrest of 13 women and 1 man, all of whom remain in custody up to today, Monday June 2.  The demonstration was held to commemorate Africa Day, mourning the lack of anything to celebrate,  and to protest against the political violence being perpetrated in the weeks leading up to the Presidential run-off election of June 27.

Approximately 200 members were stopped by the police as they marched in the street in central Harare carrying placards and distributing flyers.  Specific members were targeted for arrest, including Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.  Three were assaulted during interrogation, but they were not seriously injured.  All were first brought to court on Friday afternoon, several hours after the 48 hour limit, where they were remanded until the following day to make a bail application.  On Saturday they were granted bail by the magistrate, Rusinahama.  Jenni Williams’ bail was set at $10,000,000,000 ($US20) and for the other 13 at $5,000,000,000 ($US10).  All were also to turn in their passports.  However, the prosecutor then announced that the state would appeal against bail, so all 14 were remanded in custody until June 6, 2008.  While the single man is being held at Harare Remand prison, the ladies are all at the women’s remand section of Chikurubi.

All 14 have been charged under s 37 1c (ii) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (formerly part of the Public Order and Security Act) – “Participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of the peace or bigotry”.  This offence involves “acting with one or more others,…. intending or realizing that there is a risk of forcibly disturbing the peace, security or order of the public”.  Some of those arrested were not participating in the demonstration, but were arrested at gun point while inside a vehicle. They included the driver of the vehicle.  The vehicle was seized.

Jenni also has two other charges under the same Act:  s 30  – “Causing disaffection among the Police Force or Defence Forces”.  This charge was leveled as a result of one paragraph of the flyer which was being distributed by the demonstrators.  This paragraph was addressed to the uniformed forces and included the following words:  “We ask them to respect that Zimbabweans have voted for change and refrain from being used to perpetrate violence and to carry out injustices”.  She is likewise charged under s 31 (a) (i)  with “Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State”.  This charge apparently relates to a flyer from another organisation of which she had one copy in her handbag; however she has been accused of distributing it as well.

It will be noted that all of these sections of the Act infringe on Zimbabweans’ basic right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Declaration of Rights in our constitution.  Similar sections of the notorious Law and Order (Maintenance) Act were previously judged unconstitutional by the Zimbabwean Supreme Court, but they were re-enacted in the Public Order and Security Act.  The constitutionality of these re-enacted sections has yet to be tested in the courts.

All of the detained members of WOZA and MOZA are being visited and taken food and are in good spirits and well.  It is expected that the State’s appeal will be heard before the end of this week, and it is hoped that the appeal will be rejected and the bail conditions  upheld, so that those currently detained can await further developments out of custody.  We salute those brave members of WOZA and MOZA who dare to stand up and make public their concerns about the perilous state in which most Zimbabweans are now living.  May all Zimbabweans be inspired by their actions.

Williams and Mahlangu remanded in custody until Tuesday 21st October

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were remanded in custody until Tuesday 21st October this morning in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court. The pair had been arrested yesterday morning after a peaceful demonstration. They have been charged under Section 37 1(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘disturbing the peace, security or order of the public’.

Williams and Mahlangu appeared in court this morning at 11.15am. On arrival at court, the state prosecutor had agreed with the defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, that the state would not oppose bail and the amount and conditions were settled. On entering the court room however, Ncube was informed that a new prosecutor, Chifamba, was taking over the case.

Chifamba argued that the two should be denied bail because there was still an outstanding case pending, referring to the May 28 arrest. As the group of 14 had been removed off remand in Harare Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday 15th, this matter is no longer pending. The Magistrate, Maphosa, allowed the state time to verify this fact however, remanding the two in custody until Tuesday 21st October.

It is clear from these actions that the state is determined to deny the two bail, a clear violation of the spirit of the power-sharing agreement signed by the political parties on 15th September.

After spending one night at Bulawayo Remand Prison, Williams and Mahlangu will be moved to Mlondolozi Female Prison tomorrow.

Although disappointed by the ruling, the two are determined to remain positive, even though Mahlangu is in pain from the beating she received outside Mhlalandlela. Apparently it was Chief Inspector Mabhari himself who beat her.

The Investigating Officer of the case is Detective Sergeant Kennedy Nyahuye from the Law and Order Section of Bulawayo Central Police Station.

Useful telephone numbers:
Bulawayo Central Police Station: +263 9 72515/61706/63061/68078

Mlondolozi Prison: +263 9 64228

Bulawayo Attorney General’s Office: +263 9 77651/61603

Bulawayo Public Prosecutor: + 263 9 63173

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) » Links

Zimbabwean Human Rights Organisations

Other Zimbabweans NGO’s

    An online community for Zimbabwean activists and portal website for the non-profit sector in Zimbabwe.

International Human Rights Organisations

  • Amnesty International
    Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.
  • Front Line Defenders
    Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, defending those who champion the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
  • PeaceWomen
    The PeaceWomen Project monitors and works toward rapid and full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

Resources for Non-Violent Intervention

  • International Center on Non Violent Conflict
    The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict is an independent, nonprofit educational foundation that develops and encourages the study and use of civilian-based, nonmilitary strategies to establish and defend human rights, democracy and justice worldwide.
  • 198 methods of nonviolent action
    Noted scholar, Gene Sharp, has written extensively on nonviolent conflict and strategy. Practitioners of nonviolent struggle have an entire arsenal of “nonviolent weapons” at their disposal. The 198 methods are classified into three broad categories: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation (social, economic, and political), and nonviolent intervention. Read the 198 methods of nonviolent action.
  • Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS)
    CANVAS trainers and consultants support nonviolent democratic movements through transfer of knowledge on strategies and tactics of nonviolent struggle. CANVAS Supporting Active Network in four countries advocates and promotes battles for democracy worldwide. CANVAS has published a book, Nonviolent Struggle – 50 Crucial Points: A Strategic Approach to Everyday Tactics, which is available on their web site.

News sites focusing on Zimbabwe

  • Change Zimbabwe
    Aims to promote peaceful change in Zimbabwe and to facilitate commerce both at individual and company levels and at local and international levels.
  • New
    Zimbabwe’s first and only rolling news site updated 24/7 with all the latest news, sports and commentary. It is also a platform for debate and intellectual release with vibrant live discussion forums.
  • Studio 7 – Voice of America
    Studio 7 has been providing the Zimbabwean people with objective and balanced radio news since 2003. It reaches listeners every Monday through Friday evening in Shona, Ndebele and English from 7-8:30 p.m local time.
  • SW Radio Africa
    SW Radio Africa is the voice of the people of Zimbabwe. It broadcasts in to Zimbabwe on shortwave.
  • Zimbabwe Situation
    Daily news on Zimbabwe – daily email newsletter and website updates
  • ZW News
    Daily email newsletter and website updates on Zimbabwe

Riot police disturb the peace in Bulawayo

Today at noon the streets of Bulawayo came alive with the voices of human rights defenders as they commemorated the United Nations International Day of Peace. The words of the songs rang out – ‘its time to expose this false peace‘ and another ‘Lord, hear our cries‘. These songs were silenced however as riot police swooped, beating women and men alike, to disperse them from reaching their target at Mhlahlandlela Government complex. Fortunately the strategy of multiple protests starting minutes apart outwitted the police and the last protest managed to reach their target. No arrests have been reported to date but WOZA leaders are still verifying whether everyone returned safely to their homes.

Prisca's slipper


Several activists required medical attention for injuries sustained during the chaos however. 20 year old Prisca Dube, chased by riot police into a pile of broken glass, had to continue running, leaving a trail of blood behind in the street. Her bloody slipper and four stitches to the sole of her foot are proof of the false peace in Zimbabwe. 30-year old Frances Vale had to be driven to hospital as he was unable to walk after being beaten by four riot police at the same time; he has a fracture to his arm and doctors are still waiting to check his leg and lower back. Nomuhle has a sprained ankle after a police officer stood on her foot. Twenty other members are also seeking medical treatment at this time for the brutal beatings they received at the hands of police.

WOZA demonstrates for peace in Bulawayo

WOZA demonstrates for peace in Bulawayo

The peace day protest attracted over 1,300 peace activists who marched to deliver a set of demands to the inclusive government under the theme – social justice can deliver peace of mind. Today’s march follows the peaceful protest in Harare yesterday where over 1,000 WOZA members handed in a petition to United Nations. The demands can be read in the September copy of the Woza Moya newsletter.

Five separate protests started simultaneously in different locations in the city; four merging to form three groups that would complete the last city block to the government complex. The first sign of police was as the four protests started to make their way to Mhlahlandlela; a pickup truck carrying police attempted to drive through the protest, scattering people. 10 police officers then proceeded to beat the peaceful group, forcing them past the government complex.

Meanwhile the last group, seeing this in front of them played for time, sitting down to calm the activists, chanting – sit down and maintain discipline (Ayihlale phansi ibambe umthetho). This smaller group managed to control their fear and ignoring the site of their comrades being beaten, advanced upon the target. Many of those who had stepped aside when the police ran past rejoined this group. One of those who managed to side step the beatings was Jenni Williams, who proceeded to the government complex. They chanted slogans and left the placards and demands behind before walking peacefully away.

A police vehicle was deployed to locate WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu after a police officer said they should stop beating just anyone and look for the leaders to beat.

Their arrival at the complex was met with rousing congratulations of bystanders – ‘you have beaten them 10 zero’ was one such comment. Unfortunately by this time, a senior ranking riot police officer had arrived at the scene and was heard to say, “you have not beaten them hard enough that is why they regrouped, beat them harder.” This resulted in the beating of Frances and others. A group of men watching Frances being beaten tried to mobilise people to beat the police in retaliation. This action was quickly stopped by WOZA members who explained: ‘we are non-violent activists and any history should write that the people who disturbed the peace with violence were Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, not peaceful human rights defenders’.

People were over eager today to receive the fliers and many stepped into the protest to hear the message. One bystander shouting at the police to stop beat a woman was pacified by another bystander saying – they may have been beaten but they delivered a truthful message.

Valentine’s Day Arrests – News update 8pm

131 members remain in custody in Bulawayo for a second night. The 36 released into the custody of their lawyers once again have been allowed to return to their homes having spent the day at Bulawayo Central. Initial reports from one lawyer indicated that there were 274 in custody but the figure from another lawyer was 174 members that were arrested. This figure includes 17 juveniles, 20 mothers with babies and three pregnant women.

Only seven of the group are being charged under Chapter 37, Section (2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘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.’ These seven being the only ones that arresting officers were prepared to come forward to testify against. The rest of the group, including Magodonga Mahlangu, are not being charged and at 4 pm today, police dealing with the case agreed that they should be released. The head of the Law and Order Section at Bulawayo Central, G Ndlovu, refused to allow them to go home tonight however, insisting that they only be released in the morning after the seven had appeared in court – the lives of 124 people made miserable by the petty whim of one individual.

Magodonga Mahlangu remains isolated from the rest of the group as Law and Order officers have resisted attempts to have her moved back to join others, arguing that as a leader of WOZA, Mahlangu ‘deserves the dignity of having a cell to herself’ – having an entire police station to herself does seem a little excessive however! Concerns for her safety continue whilst she remains in solitary confinement.

Members in Queens Park are still being denied medication – please call Queens Park Station on +263 9 22641/2 to demand that those taking ARV treatment be allowed to take their medication.

The eight women arrested in Harare yesterday and held at Harare Central overnight are out of custody having paid admission of guilt fines early this evening. The women complained of terrible and inhumane conditions in the cells and having been beaten in custody. Attempts are still being made to ascertain exactly what happened in Harare Central and more information will be given when it becomes available.

4 women remain in custody

WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquaters in Harare
WOZA members arrest themselves in solidarity outside ZESA headquaters in Harare

The four WOZA women arrested at the ZESA headquarters in Harare yesterday, Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani, remain in police custody. They have still not been formally charged. Their lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was granted access to them this afternoon. They are in good spirits despite the appalling conditions in Harare Central Police Station. Law and Order officers will decide tomorrow morning what charges they will prefer against the four activists. Due to the public holiday on Monday, if the women are not taken to court tomorrow morning they will remain in custody until Tuesday at the very least.

It has also emerged that a 23-year-old MOZA member, Timothy Katyora, was beaten in Harare Central Police Station yesterday by six uniformed officers. The young man was with a group of activists who presented themselves at the Charge Office attempting to hand themselves in in solidarity with their arrested comrades. Timothy was hauled away from the rest of the group into the guard room and beaten over the head by six officers, who were questioning him constantly about what he was doing there. After being beaten for several minutes, he was chased out of the police station. Timothy received medical treatment for bruising and headaches this morning.

The arrest and continued detention of the four women for exercising their constitutional right to demand a fair service for the electricity that they pay for makes a mockery of the Independence celebrations that no doubt will be taking place across Zimbabwe this weekend. 30 years later, the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans still do not enjoy the fruits of freedom. The promises of the liberation war have not been delivered to Zimbabweans who struggle to survive every day, wondering how they will feed their children tomorrow. Human rights and dignity denied to women, men and children who wish that the great achievement of 30 years of independence from colonial rule was something that could be celebrated. There is very little to celebrate in the cold, dark cells of Harare Central Police Station.

Please continue to call Harare Central Police Station on (+263 4) 777777 or (+263 4) 736931 or (+263 4) 725803 or (+263 4) 733033 or (+263 4) 721212 to demand that the WOZA activists be taken to court tomorrow and that they not be mistreated in custody.

Watch footage from the demonstration here: ZESA demo Hre 16.04.10