Update – Christine Ndlovu was released after Law and Order Officer George Ngwenya made her pay a $5 fine for trespass and went to her home to verify her Identity Card. Her lawyer Kossam Ncube drove the police officers to Christines home. WOZA Leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu followed to make sure nothing untoward would occur. Concerns that Ngwenya wanted to search her home or get to know where she lives for intimidation purposes remain!
Statement – At 11am on 18 September 2012 sixty two members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to the Bulawayo offices of the Joint Operating and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) in Bulawayo. Riot Police were deployed in other parts of the city and it was strategic for the members to select to march to JOMIC. The procession was to deliver letters of complaint about the treatment by police of members on 12 September 2012. Members were stopped from enjoying their right to peaceful protest by Riot Police who chased them with baton sticks. The complaint also dealt with the arbitrary arrest of WOZA leaders, detaining them under false pretences at Bulawayo Central Police Station. In the complaint WOZA threaten to effect a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on Riot Police officers who violate their own legal requirements on dealing with peaceful protests. Ten minutes before the march, Williams and Mahlangu had attempted to deliver a letter of complaint to Police General Headquarters in Southampton House. Unfortunately the District Clerk refused to sign acceptance of the letter of complaint. JOMIC received the complaint and directed WOZA leaders to try to get the Press and Public Relations office at Ross Camp Headquarters to receive the complaint and sign acknowledgement. By this time the members had gathered at JOMIC and a protest was in progress. Addressing the protest Williams reported developments and members decided to march silently to Ross Camp to get the complaint delivered.
Arrival at Ross camp was met with deployment of more Riot Police who refused to allow all 62 women to enter. Williams and Mahlangu were permitted entry but were unsuccessful in getting the Press department to accept the complaint. Assistant Inspector Bhekinkosi Ndlovu refused and referred the activists back to Southampton House. As they exited the camp, a member Christine Ndlovu was arrested by the police officer manning the gate on allegations that she had trespassed. Her arrest was facilitated by notorious Law and Order Detective Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya, responsible for the torture and harassment of members. He is also the officer behind the bringing of malicious Kidnap and Theft charges on Williams and Mahlangu.
The WOZA leaders then briefed the members that the PR department had refused to sign and had referred WOZA back to Southampton House. As they were doing this a car pulled up with two police internal security intelligence officers Kamba and Dhambi from Southampton who had attended the activists earlier that morning. They then asked Williams and Mahlangu to hand over the complaint so they could formally receive it. They offered to drive the activist back to the officer for a more formal acceptance process but citing potential for abduction, the two insisted that they would walk back to Southampton House, 6 blocks away. As they tried to leave, another contingent of plain clothed police possible from another wing of state machinery, the central intelligence organisation, accosted the two and tried to take away the letter of complaint. Snatching it back, Williams and Mahlangu then made to get on their way to Southampton House.
Further delays resulted as more Riot Police were deployed bring the number of Riot Police to 30. These officers began to make harsh threats to ‘beat and kill’ WOZA members. The two activists were then separated from the 60 members had to make their way under surveillance of 8 plain clothed police officer and a truck full of 12 Riot Police until they reached police headquarters in Southampton House. The two officers Kamba and Dhambi then calmly signed the letter of complaint acknowledgement allowing the activists to finally end a tedious 2 hours.
Christine Ndlovu remains in custody but is now at Mzilikazi Police station awaiting the deployment of Law and Order Police officers who it seems now have ‘ criminal trespass’ as part of their brief. Please call 00 263 9 74439 or 00 263 9 488114 to ask police officers why they are keeping Christine in custody. WOZA fear for her safety due to the presence of perpetrators of torture like Law and Order Officer, G. L. Ngwenya on her matter.
See also the follow press statement from WOZA and the UN and African Comissisioners for Human Rights on http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1347