Williams, Mahlangu appear in court

WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared in Court 2 Tredgold Magistrates Court at 9am on 6th October 2011 before Magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa. They were remanded to 12 December 2011. Although Prosecutor Melvin Nzombe was in attendance most prosecutors are on strike therefore the long remand date.

Ten members arrested alongside Williams and Mahlangu during the 21 September 2011 Peace Day protest have filed a complaint against police officers who made up the Riot Reaction squad on the day in question. The ten, represented by 2 have complained to the Zimbabwe Republic Police that officers who were beating them and arrested them used foul language on them and others who were not arrested. The Officer commanding Crime Prevention Unit, Sergeant J. Dzikiti in the company of other police officers called the women ‘Beche’ the Shona language word for Vagina and also ‘Beche ramai vako’ (your mothers vagina) as they beat the human rights defenders with baton sticks. Sergeant Dzikiti is also the one who gave orders for the beating shouting ‘uraya’, meaning ‘kill’ in Shona.

An investigating officer has been assigned to the case on Wednesday but in current police trend they asked the victims to go get the perpetrator and present him. Today, in the company of Williams and Mahlangu the women attend Bulawayo Central Police Station to locate the officer. Sgt Dzikiti was identified and directly confronted ad asked to go with the women to the investigating officer but he refused. The activists obtained his name and force number which was submitted to the investigating officer. The case number is IR 7900/11.

After the 10 June raid by police officers of the WOZA office, a formal complaint was made to the legal department of the police on 1st July 2011. But apart from police attending the house to remove their planted documents and bullets no further update has been received. A Nokia X3 mobile phone with MTN Sim card and USD$400 stolen from the house by police officers guarding it remains ignored.

Another report made on Tuesday 27 October 2011, of burglary and theft from another WOZA property remains ignored and un-investigated. Bulawayo Central Police station officers receiving the report have even refused to provide an initial report number or assign a crime reference book number.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu met with Global Political Agreement Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JoMic) staff on 12th September 2011 in their offices.   The meeting was attended by the 3 political party representatives, Frank Chamunorwa (MDC), Oppah Muchinguri (Zanu PF) and Thabita Kumalo (MDC T) and their staff liaison officers. During this meeting, WOZA was asked to report all human rights abuses to the police and relay these complaints to JoMIC with police reference numbers. But it is proving difficult for WOZA members to get cooperation from Bulawayo Central Police station.

It is unfortunate that in Zimbabwe there is no independent complaint process so the junior investigating officer will be expected to discipline his superior officer so it is unclear how effective this process can be but it is a record for future Transitional Justice processes.