Category Archives: Electricity

WOZA scores another Supreme Court win

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders arrested in April 2010 took a challenge against the state on intolerable conditions they were kept under for 5 days. On 5 June 2014 the judgement was finally delivered by Justice Ziyambi in Harare. The court directed the first (Co-Ministers of Home Affairs) and second respondents (Police Commissioner and Attorney General) to
‘take all necessary steps and measures within their powers to ensure that at Harare Central Police Station
a) All holding cells shall have clean and salubrious flushing toilets with toilet paper and washing bowl.
b) The flushing toilets to be cordoned off from the main cell to ensure privacy.
c) A good standard of hygiene shall be maintained in the holding cells.
d) Every person detained in police custody overnight shall be furnished with a clean mattress and adequate blankets.
e) Adequate bathing facilities shall be provided for all persons detained in police custody overnight.
f) Every person detained shall have access at all times to wholesome drinking water from a source other than the tap above the toilet.
g) Women detained in police custody shall be allowed to keep their undergarments including brassieres, and to wear suitable footwear.
Whilst WOZA members morale is boosted, members will celebrate when these conditions are a lived reality.

WOZA would like to acknowledge the courage of the four members – Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa for taking this case and remaining committed to defending women’s rights.
WOZA pay tribute to Advocate Lewis Uriri and Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for legal support and for believing that members rights had been violated and seeing the case through over the last 4 years.
Joint Statement ZLHR and WOZA WOZA_ZLHR Joint Press Statement On ConCourt Judgment

Ruling copy Supreme Court ruling on Conditions Case – JLW&Others vs State (note poor copy)

Report on police station inspection and background http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1275

Bitter sweet victory in Supreme Court

On 15 April 2010 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa were arrested and spent six days in detention in filthy conditions in Harare Central Police holding cells after a protest over Electricity supply and high costs. Upon their release on 20 April, instructed their lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to petition the Supreme Court as the conditions constituted inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Section 15 (1) of the constitution.

They were also seeking an order compelling the government to ensure that holding cells at Harare Central Police Station meet basic hygienic conditions. Part of the petition was that their detention also resulted in gender discrimination and called for alterations in structure and procedure to cater for women prisoners.

WOZA cited the co-Minister of Home Affairs, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Attorney General Johannes Tomana as the respondents. The state respondents were represented by Advocate Goba and Ms Mashiri from the AG’s Civil Division.

Advocate Lewis Uriri, Advocate Taona Sibanda, all member lawyers of ZLHR, Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of ZLHR represented the activists.

The activists spent their time in custody in a dark smelly corridor surrounding 10 cells that that they could not occupy due to human waste scattered all over the floors.

Five Supreme Court Judges namely, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, Justice Rita Makarau, Justice Paddington Garwe, Justice Yunus Omerjee and Justice Anne-Mary Gowora convened the court in Harare Central police stations and conducted the inspection of the police cells. The inspection was to provide visual verification as to conditions and during the inspection the 4 activists were called upon to respond to questions.  After an hour long inspection the  court reconvened with a reading out of the observations and presentation of the Heads of argument and state response. After the lengthy arguments the court reserved judgement at 4:20 pm. Current trends indicated that a ruling will be granted within 6 months.

WOZA leaders observed that great attempts had been made by the Police to remove the ‘human waste bomb’ that had been apparent on the first floor cell unit during their arrest. But the respondents who ordered this clean up as a way to ‘rig’ and tried to make Harare central suddenly ‘habitable’ should realise that no amount of floor polish can dignify the undignified conditions that prevail. However the cleaning up has gone a long way to remove the offensive smell that permeated not only the cell chambers but wafted its way into the charge office.
WOZA recognise this as a significant victory for activism but wish it would not have been at the behest of a legal battle but out of common decency. Nevertheless WOZA thank the police for this clean-up effort which will be felt by staff and detainees alike. As the police continue to disrespect constitutional right to freedom of assembly and arrest WOZA members it is most likely that during these visits members will continue to check that the new standards of cleanliness observed with the Supreme Court judges inspection continue to be adhered to.

draft order sought Williams othrs vs HA ZRP AG

300 march to parly handover petitions

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) 300 member’s representatives delivered 101 000 ‘anti abuse of power’ petition signatures, red cards and symbolic ‘Coffins’  to Parliament for onward submission to the Anti Corruption and Monopolies Committee on Wednesday 24 August 2011. Riot Police made a police line and refused to allow anyone to cross. The coffin carrying protest group 50 meters from reaching the door of parliament. Some leaders managed to cross the police line with the red cards and box of petitions but the Coffin ‘pall bearers’  were stopped by the police officers who then ‘arrested’ the coffins.

A Riot Police officer was overheard making a call to his superior from his mobile phone.  Obviously speaking to a secretary, he said – “Tell the boss I have WOZA here what should I do. Its urgent, the first group has arrived and there are many. “Getting no immediate solace, he had to keep insisting on the urgency and eventually was given some response and hung up the phone putting it his pocket and just moving to stand with others. A plain clothed intelligence agent was then heard calling his superior and confirming the orders ‘leave them alone and let them do what they want.”  A 30 minute stand-off ensued whilst the activists used alternative routes to deliver the petitions.

During this time a huge group of passers-by gathered to read the flyers; watch the drama unfolding, and to comment on the Electricity issue.  Members sang Shona language songs, calling for removal al of the ZESA monopoly.  When the riot police became aggressive, they switched to song, Udzvanyiriri ndiwo unei (so what is this oppression all about) and ‘munu wese ane kodzero’ (everyone has rights, even police officers). Various members took the opportunity to address the gathering and bemoaned the challenges of continual power cuts and the need to spend money on alternative means light and fuel to cook food.

A police van approached driving at speed towards the procession causing the peaceful activists to scatter. The police officers then took the change to push their line with reinforcements and order the members to disperse.

Members had mandated their leaders to deliver the petitions calling for the Electricity monopoly to end.  This is part of the WOZA anti Abuse of power campaign which has so far involved delivery of ‘yellow cards’ and now ‘red cards’ to suburban and central officers of the power utility. WOZA are pressurising the parliamentary committee as they have already conducted many public hearings but are yet to take action. ZESA has also recently threatened to raise rates. Member with a fixed system of Electricity which works on fixed amps, are given a fixed charge which does not cater for the power cuts. Members also feel that they could be better off with prepaid meters than paying a full bill for a part service.

These 101 000 petition signature sheets were what remained after police raided the WOZA office on after the 10 June raid and removed sheets of signatures. An initial count with was in progress when they raided revealed that at least one million signatures had been received.

On Monday 22 August 13 members were indiscriminately arrested in Bulawayo but released within a few hours. Police officers in Harare did not disturb the peace but violated our right to reach our parliament and to hand over our petitions.

Officials from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Holdings have since called WOZA National Coordinator Jenni Williams to arrange a meeting to discuss members concerns.

At 2:15pm 25 Aug 2011, 30 members went to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) offices in Avondale Harare to hand over a second further letter of complaint. Jomic is responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the Global Political Agreement. WOZA have complained of police harassment and the visit yesterday was to pressure Jomic to respond to previous letters of complaint about the 10 June 2011 raid of WOZA offices by Zimbabwe Republic Police. The members,  found that the receptionist and serious officials were still away on the lunch break and had to hand over their letter to a junior officer. The spent 15 minutes singing and awaiting senior officers to no avail. WOZA Leaders, Williams and Mahlangu threatened to come back with a larger group if Jomic did not correspond and take their complaints seriously.

Heavy police presence ignored as hundreds march but 20 arrested and released

Twenty members have been arrested in Bulawayo around noon on 22 August 2011. These arrests followed protests to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company over poor service. Five hundred members, in four separate protests managed to converge on the Power station to deliver 63 000 signatures that remained after police seized the million signatures on the ‘anti abuse of power’ petition signatures. As they marched they distributed flyers. They also delivered ‘red cards’ and 4 mock coffins symbolising the need for ‘parliament to bury ZESA’ or remove the monopoly.

Town looked perfectly normal until 11:30 am when large contingent of police were deployed. Over one hundred police officers, many in full Riot police gear conducted arbitrary ‘stop and search’ of anyone walking. Other officers stopped every commuter omnibuses enroute into the CDB and searched handbags and people’s pockets. The police officers told some members that they were looking for WOZA material.

Plain clothed Criminal Investigating Officers were also present in their large numbers in the vicinity of the protest.  This dragnet resulted in 10 members from one area were arrested as they waited for their demonstration to start. Due to heavy presence of police around town, two of the four processions had to relocate members to their plan B beginning points. These last minute changes resulted in some members being too frightened to March or getting lost in the relocation.

As the 3 protests arrived at the Power stations officers, they dropped off the coffin and red cards and the petitions before dispersing. The fourth protest arrived as the ZESA office staff, were taking in the petitions and coffin, as the peaceful activists arrived carrying the 4th coffin, the staff actually thanked them for the coffin and took it into the office.  Passersby commended the activists for dealing ‘with ZESA’ and said at least the police ‘allowed’ them time to dance at the ZESA office.

After the protests two more groups, bringing the number of arrests to 20, with at least two members being handcuffed. Lawyers have been deployed.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams who participated in the procession issued this comment: ‘I wish to pay tribute to WOZA members for showing determination to deliver a strong telling off to ZESA despite being searched and intimidated’. With the huge presence of police, who were thoroughly searching each person, I did not expect any procession to get started, but members strategised. They sneaked into town all their reds cards, flyers, petitions with 63 000 signatures on petitions, 4 huge cardboard Coffins and placards and managed to march and deliver their message.

WOZA would also like to thank members of the public for saving at least 5 members from arrest by plain clothed police officers by tipping them off that the officers were talking about arresting them.  A similar protest on 10 May 2011, to the power station resulted in over 50 members being beaten.

Members of WOZA and MOZA did research on 1434 households last year and found that:
1. The average home spends 101 hours per month without ELECTRICITY that is over 15% of the hours in one month. This year power cuts have doubled.
2. Most people spend 3/4 of the cost of the ZESA bill buying alternative fuel so they can cook food!
3. More than 50% of homes pay a fixed charge, if they don’t pay they are cut off, they don’t get any discount for power cuts and are charged interest on back bills and estimate bills.
4.  Of the 1434 homes, only 42 homes had prepaid meters. These are some of the reasons WOZA are giving ZESA a red card – they are a danger to our pockets and they don’t have customer care or improve their service.  Millions of Zimbabweans are being robbed. ZESA is abusing POWER and parliament must remove the power monopoly. WOZA members want prepaid meters and affordable, fair electricity service, with actual bills and proper load shedding timetables.

more pictures available on WOZA facebook page and You Tube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfIXW1tUx5s

Court victory for 8 as Trial begins for another 6

Eight members Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, and Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare arrested on 24 May 2011 appeared in Western Commonage Magistrate Court on the 15th of August 2011. The Magistrate Themba Chimiso ruled that the state must withdraw the charges before plea. This followed an application by the defence team from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the charges.

The accused were charged with two counts: 1. Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct as defined in section 41(a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23. Alternatively Encumbering or obstructing the free passage along any street, road, throughfare, sidewalk or pavements as defined in section 46(2)(f) of the Criminal law codification and Reform act.

Lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa cited a Supreme Court ruling obtained by WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest related arrest.  Lawyers argued that the charges were similar to the section 37 (1) a (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the subject of the Supreme Court ruling. As a result of this ruling, it followed that WOZA members should not be arrested under similar conditions as they infringe on their constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, section 20(1) and 21(1) of the Constitution.  This argument rendered the Prosecutor D. Ndebele dumb and he had no option but to withdraw the charges before plea and record this in the docket. The members, including a 3 month old baby Rejoice had spent a night in custody.  They were arrested during a peaceful protest in the Pumula suburb of Bulawayo at their local Electricity supply office demanding a decent electricity service. WOZA members were conducting a ‘power to poor people’ campaign targeting the Zimbabwe Electricity company which has a monopoly and overcharges its service.

Six members accused of writing messages about the poor electricity service appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo on 18th of August 2011. The six members, Janet Dube and 5 others were in the dock for most of the morning facing Trial.  The Trial is being heard by Magistrate Roselyn Dube and the state prosecutor is Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They are defended by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa.   They are charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property. The property being the tar road connecting the Pelandaba to the City centre.

Malicious damage to property reads: Any person who, knowing that another person is entitled to own, possess or control any property or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that another person may be so entitled, damages or destroys the property. (a) intending to cause such damage or destruction; or (b) realising that there is a real risk or possibility that such damage or destruction may result from his or her act or omission; shall be guilty of malicious damage to property, and liable to. (i) a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding twice the value of the property damaged as a result of the crime, whichever is the greater; or (ii) imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-five years; Two police officers who arrested the accused gave evidence. Shepherd Sipili and Lawrence Chademana’s evidence seemed to contradict their own written statements. They admitted arresting Sibekezele and Therezia, saying the other accused could have been arrested by other officers who were not in court. The trial will continue on the 1st of September where the Engineer Lengama Douglas Ncube from City Council must explain how he calculated the USD 349 damage apparently caused by the women’s graffiti. The six women were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 by armed police officers. During their detention they were denied access to food and  lawyers, split up and help in inhumane conditions in suburban police stations and held for longer that the 48 hours allowed by law. WOZA would like to thank Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights for delivering a legal victory for the Pumula members and look forward to another victory for the six accused of writing ‘power to poor people’.

Police leave bullets, admit ‘main agenda’ to rise and change government

HIGH Court Judge Nicholas Mathonsi ruled on 20 June 2011 that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who had forcefully occupied the Suburbs WOZA property should vacate and restore its full use to the organisation. high-court-ruling-20-june20111

WOZA monitored the situation and observed the police leave after 5:30pm on the 21st June. A cream double came and dropped off a short young officer known to WOZA members and after sometime came back to collect this detective in plain clothes and 2 uniformed details. They left the keys with the tenant stating that police officers were no longer allowed in the property.

WOZA leaders decided to enter the property and verify the state it had been left it and to remove the Ford pick-up that had been in the yard since the raid. A group of six entered the property through the kitchen door and were overcome by a strong smell in the kitchen which caused them to start gagging. The house was quickly closed and the vehicle was driven to a place of safety for the night. Three members immediately began to feel ill with dizziness; vomiting and diahorrea. The next morning the vehicle was offloaded and two bullets (38 mm pistol) were discovered with a metal object that looks like a bearing.

All six members then returned to the house and in the company of Human Rights lawyers and journalists determined that the smell was still present and further investigation throughout the house revealed more ‘planted’ material.

Inexplicably WOZA solidarity cards received from Amnesty members worldwide were removed out of their envelopes and replaced with condoms, both male and female.

A one page document entitled ‘Main Agenda’ had been planted with other WOZA material such as democracy, constitution books that members conduct civic education around. Several copies of this publication were also placed in the document folders of members who had been in the house at the time of the raid.

The state of the house was clearly consistent with information previously obtained on the first day that 20 to 30 plain clothes officers had searched the house.

The fireplace in the lounge shows that something was put up the chimney as there was black ash all over the lounge floor.

At first count many documents and two mobile phones, all food in the house is missing in defiance of the High court order that nothing must be removed.

By 11am, members started to feel very ill and one member fainted and had to be rushed to hospital so the house was closed up once again.

One member spent the day admitted and on a drip and seven other members were treated and discharged. When attending the private hospital, one journalist was also being attended with the same symptoms. Headache; dizziness and disorientation, weak limbs, nausea and diahorrea. The doctors prescribed antibiotics and anti-histamines for all those who attended.

It should be noted that police officers chased away a lawyer who attended the scene of the raid within 15minutes and that our court application was taken on the basis that no legitimate search could be conducted days after the invasion and it was stated that there was real fear that materials would be ‘planted’. Our worst fears were realised by the bullets and other metal objects, documents and condoms planted at the scene. A letter of complain has been sent to the police and court. letter-of-objection-to-law-and-order-22june-zlhr

We also note that had our national coordinator Jenni Williams who is the official organisation representative had attended the house as was constantly demanded over the 12 day invasion period, she would be facing fabricated ‘Treason’ charges. It was not out of guilt that Williams and others left through the back door on the day of the raid but out of knowing the track record of the police officers at the gate and years of members being harassed, threatened, abducted by Law and Order police officers namely George Levison Ngwenya, Lindani Mpofu, Zenzo Moyo and female officer S. G. Ndlovu, known as MaNdlo other whose surnames are Chikango, Nkomo, Chuchu.

Despite knowing their track record, they have stooped even lower than we imagined by poisoning us which is chemical warfare and by fabricating a document.

However, their words ring true in the words they wrote – “People of Zimbabwe we have been oppressed for a long time because we did not know about our right and international obligations. We have lost ubuntu. Dignity and respect because of the type of leadership we have. They are corrupt. They are stealing from people to make themselves rich.  .. We are tired of President Mugabe and he must go by all means. He is full of abuse of power with his ministers. He has no respect of law. (His own laws and International Laws).

They go on to confirm their deepest desires by saying, “Everyone wants him out. Let’s all rise and remove him now. When the date is fixed you will be told. We will do it. Others have done it in Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt.”

WOZA members stand firmly behind their founder and national coordinator Jenni Williams and ‘praise the lord’ for saving her from these fabricated charges. Williams and WOZA members are committed to a nonviolent struggle and do not believe that bullets can deliver dignity and true independence for all Zimbabweans to enjoy equally. We think that if anyone should be facing Treason charges it is the police officers named above who wrote the ‘main agenda’ document. But as mothers of the nation and through mothers’ eyes we understand that they are finally speaking the truth – we send them our love and say keep speaking out. We will expect their active support when Zimbabweans do what they have suggested in their Zimbabwe Republic Police ‘main agenda’. police-officers-main-agenda-document

High Court application lodged – Williams gets more threats

UPDATE – MATTER HEARD AT 9AM AND JUDGEMENT RESERVED!!!!!

ON 15 June 2011, Police officers were served with the copies of urgent chamber application submitted on 14th June to the High Court by WOZA. They were served by Kossam Ncube, the defence lawyer. The matter has been set down for 9am Friday 17 June 2011 before Justice Mathonsi. woza-urgent-chamber-application-14-june-2011. woza-draft-provisional-order. jl-williams-woza-affidavit . woza-cert-of-urgency

The relief sought from the court is in the form of an order compelling Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Officer Commanding CID Law and Order Section Augustine Kubvoruno Commanding CID Law and Order Section at Bulawayo and Chief Superintendent P. R Moyo, the Officer Commanding CID Law and Order Section at Bulawayo Central Police Station and the Officer In Charge CID Law and Order Section at Bulawayo Central Police Station to remove all police officers from the house and the yard outside with immediate effect and to bar the police from removing anything whatsoever from the house. WOZA are requesting the High Court restore back to the organisation full and undisturbed occupation of the house. The Suburbs house is under armed police guard.

The reaction from the police officers upon being served with court documents was more threats and intimidation. Officer Ngwenya complained directly to the Human Rights lawyer that he was mentioned in WOZA press statements and that he will now have to ‘deal personally with Williams’, this is the second time he has made such a threat upon the person of Williams. He went on to vow that even if the court orders them to leave the premises, they will continue to guard from outside the house until they can get Williams and search the house and vehicles parked in the yard.

On Friday 10th June WOZA members had gathered to finalise their petitions and power cut timesheets in Suburbs, Bulawayo. WOZA planned to hand these over to the Parliament Committee dealing with the electricity issue. Police officers so desperate to protect their ‘power company’ – ZETDC from the successful ‘anti abuse of power petition campaign’ and they pounced like hyenas threatening peaceful women. They broke the gate and forced their way in assaulting a lodger and are still occupying the house 6 days later. The excuse is that they are looking for subversive documents that oppose the government but we suspect that they have ‘planted’ evidence over these days they have been in sole control of the house.

The House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management is holding public hearings on ZESA, in response to the outcry over electricity supply and cost. There has been wide militarisation of state enterprises, and ZESA Holdings is no exception. In April last year it was intelligence agents masquerading as security officers who enforced the arrest of Jennifer Williams at ZESA in Harare during a peaceful protest. The same scenario prevailed on 10 May when a journalist was arrested at the Bulawayo also by Security officers. We therefore expect ZESA have prevailed upon the police to prevent WOZA from continuing their ‘anti abuse of power’ campaign and issuing the threatened ‘red card’ to ZESA.

The officers leading this oppression are Law and Order police, namely George Levison Ngwenya, Lindani Mpofu, Chikango, Nkomo, Chuchu, S. G. Ndlovu, known as MaNdlo and another know as Moyo. These officers are involved in oppression of human rights defenders and some of them are involved in the torture of members during detention in March of 14 members.

WOZA lawyer Kossam Ncube was at the scene 20minutes after the raid to attend but was threatened and chased away. lawyer-complains-law-and-order-byo
The Joint Monitoring Implementation Committee is yet to respond to WOZAs report. letterhead-to-jomic

8 make bail and police confirm looking for organisers

EIGHT WOZA members arrested during a protest against the on the 24th of May 2011 appeared at Western Commonage Magistrate Court on 26th of May 2011. Those arrested were Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare with her 3month old baby Rejoice. The accused were represented by Human Rights Lawyer Kossam Ncube and appeared before Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja. The Public Prosecutor was Fiona Ncube-Dhenere represented the state.

They were formally charged with two counts the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23. Count 1 is Section 41(a) – Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct and count 2 Section 46(2) (f) – Encumbering or obstructing the free passage along any street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk or pavements.

As the state was opposing bail a hearing had to be conducted. The state called Investigating officer Detective Assistant Inspector Nhlanhla Ncube from Pumula Police station to give evidence.  He argued that police are not done with the investigations as they want to arrest the organisers of the action. He told the court that since January police have been on the lookout for Woza organisers and they want those in custody to lead them to the organisers. Defence attorney argued that this matter was not to be put on the shoulders of the current accused who should not suffer as a result of police incompetence to do their work.

After an adjourned the Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja indicated that it is the duty of the police to investigate first before arresting and not to arrest and investigate. He reminded the police prison cells are not place to keep people who have not been proven to be guilty while police officers are doing their investigations. He granted them $100 bail each, and ordered them to report every Friday at Pumula police camp until the finalisation of the matter. The defence applied to challenge the charges on the next remand date which is the 9th June 2011. All the accused pleaded not guilty.

The charge and statement taking procedures were done 8 times with all statements being torn up and ‘they did not make sense’ so finding a charge was problematic and it is amazing with this background that the investigating team went further to want to refuse bail and indicated that they want to arrest the organisers since January. Noting the evidence made by the police officer under oath is a confirmation of the police harassment of WOZA Human rights Defenders and direct proof that there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms of assembly and expression and promises contained in the political agreement. It is also direct contempt for a Supreme Court ruling obtained by Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 arrest. It is promising to note that the magistrate reminder to the police that they must investigate then arrest is a reprimand for the police force that prefer to employ persecution by prosecution as standard practice and it is hopeful that in the next sitting he will rule for these frivolous charges to be withdrawn.

It is sad to note that arresting officers initially asked for deport fines to be paid but members said they had not committed any offence and demanded their right to appear in court. The just action at that point was to release the eight but they could not be humble and proceeded to detain them. The whole afternoon on Tuesday, they could not find a police station to detain them and the law and order department also refused to receive the case saying that arresting officers were overzealous must finish their own dirty work and even questioned why they were even arrested in the first place. The arbitrary arrest of Human Rights defenders is an urgent call for security sector reform.

Arrested members detained and released into lawyers custody

Members arrested in the protest Tuesday spent the night at Luveve Police station before being released into their lawyer’s custody Thursday on condition that they come to be formnally charged in Western Commonage Magistrates Court on 26th May 2011.

The final number of arrested rose to 8 women and a 3 month old baby Rejoice. Tuesday afternoon dragged to an end with many police stations refusing to receive the arrested questioning why they were even arrested in the first place. The mother and baby were allowed to sleep at home and report Thursday morning.

The charge and statement taking procedures were done 8 times with all statements being torn up and ‘they did not make sense’ so finding a charge is still a challenge. The notorious law and order department Police officers at Bulawayo Central also refused to receive the accused and said the officers who arrested them were overzealous must finish the job.

Warn and Cautioned statements were redone 25 May  and they were charged under the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act: conduct likely to disturb the peace.

The members are Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare with her 3month old baby Rejoice. Today is Africa Day in Zimbabwe and electricity cuts will as usual average 6 to 18 hours.

Six released, another six & baby arrested in a ‘Power’ Protest

SIX women arrested appeared in Tredgold Magistrate Court on Monday 23 May and were granted bail on condition they lodged $100 bail each, report fortnightly on Fridays at Western Commonage Police Station. They appeared before Magistrate Gideon Ruvetsa, with public prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They were arrested on the night of Wednesday 18th May.

According to the State outline, the charge is malicious damage to property and three people are still at large.  The complainant is Bulawayo City Council represented by Lengama Douglas Ncube of the Engineering department.

The six were represented by human rights lawyer Kossam Ncube and Godfrey Nyoni. The lawyers notified the court that they will challenge the charge on the 6th of June which is the next time the six will appear in Court for a remand hearing. Lawyers also put into court record that the accused were denied food and that the police officers threatened them with death and disappearance and verbally abused them by referring to them as prostitutes. Under this duress, five of the accused admitted to the charge. This took place in the absence of their lawyers despite officers being well aware of the legal team. Over the weekend two homes were raided without any search warrant but not arrests were made.

The state case is based on ‘malicious damage to property’ but they will have to prove what repairs are needed and how they have calculated the damage at US$345.00 when the paint used is normal road paint which is used to draw traffic lines and fades over time.

150 WOZA members in Pumula, Bulawayo today marched to their local Electricity company office carrying a mock coffin to symbolise the burial of Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). They began their march from a nearby shopping centre, intending to march past the police station to the ZETDC office but a vehicle drove out and dispersed them.

Police officers on bicycles then chased the activists but many managed to double back to the door of ZETDC to deliver the yellow cards and coffin. A drama ensured with residents shouting at police officers to stop chasing people as they do not have electricity themselves. All the police officers seem to come out to pick up and read the yellow cards, flyers and placards.

As the protest dispersed, six members, Simangaliso Msimanga, Grace Moyo, Pretty Chivunge, and Sikhangezile Sibanda and Memory Matandare with her 3month old baby and another have been arrested and handcuffed. Lawyers have been deployed.