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. http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1370

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.


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