TEN members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and 4 bystanders arrested on 7th February 2012 were finally released. The 4 bystanders including a 16 year old girl, pregnant 18year old woman and a vendor were released at the court. The ten members including WOZA leader Jenni Williams went on to be formally charged when they appeared in Court One. They were granted free bail with no conditions but the state insisted on setting a provisional Trial date of Monday 13th February 2012.
Although detained for ‘failing to notify the police of a demonstration’ a section of the notorious Public Order Security Act (POSA) they were finally charged under a lesser charge.
Criminal law (codification and reform) Act [chapter 9:23] Act 23/2004 Section 46 Criminal nuisance’ Any person who does any of the acts specified in the Third Schedule shall be guilty of criminal nuisance and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both. Acts constituting criminal nuisance – 2. Any person who – (v) employs any means whatsoever which are likely materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public or any section of the public, or does any act which is likely to create a nuisance or obstruction; shall be guilty of criminal nuisance.
All fourteen are suffering from Flu like symptoms and 2 had to be taken to hospital. This was a result of the fourteen being kept in the filthy cockroach infested open fenced area of the police cells 3 hours from 11pm to 2am on the first night. This was during a 5 hour meeting by police bosses debating on how to proceed. Most junior police officers were refusing to process the activist saying they should be released. Sanity did not prevail as at 2am, the order came for detention and the docket disappeared for 48hours stalling any process to prepare the activists for court.
The members were represented by Godfrey Nyoni and Nikiwe Ncube deployed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. The state was represented by Jeremiah Mutsindikwa and Magistrate Rosemary Dube.
Four members who were arrested were beaten upon arrest and handcuffed and dragged to Central police station.
Two out of four processions managed to arrive at the Joint Operations, Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JoMIC) office in Prosperity House along Leopold Takawira Street, Between Jason Moyo/Main Street but police swooped and viciously beat members to disperse them, arresting four members.
Members then made efforts to regroup and smaller groups marched to The Chronicle where once again police officers swooped arresting another 2. Other members were arrested at different parts of the city.