Magistrate Charity Maphosa, who was due to rule on the bail application of WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, today at 11.15am, was ‘forced’ to attend a workshop instead, delaying her judgement until Monday 27th October.
Williams and Mahlangu remain in Mlondolozi Female Prison where conditions are terrible. Cells are overcrowded and full of lice, food is extremely limited. Prisoners receive only a small amount of sadza (maize) with green vegetable cooked in water â€“ no salt or any other form of nutrition. The lack of salt is particularly worrying given the extreme heat being experienced at the moment. Prison guards also routinely insult inmates.
As expected they were not in court as prison authorities had no transport to bring them to court. As on Tuesday however, the courtroom was full of state agents and WOZA members who had walked to town (some for up to 15km) to provide solidarity to Williams and Mahlangu.
On arriving at court, the defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, was informed that Magistrate Maphosa was not available and that another magistrate would deliver her verdict. Instead Magistrate Sophie Matimba delayed the ruling until Monday at 11.15am.
Williams and Mahlangu were arrested over a week ago. Bail applications are usually heard on an urgent basis.
It is clear that the state aims to continue its harassment of these women human rights defenders; the actions of a regime so terrified of its own people that it has to imprison them.
SADC is meeting in Harare on Monday to discuss Zimbabweâ€™s future whilst human rights defenders languish in prison for calling for food aid. WOZA continues to urge its friends in the region and internationally to condemn this persecution of women who are simply determined to provide a better future for themselves and their children. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Useful telephone numbers:
Bulawayo Central Police Station: +263 9 72515/61706/63061/68078
Mlondolozi Prison: +263 9 64228
Bulawayo Attorney Generalâ€™s Office: +263 9 77651/61603
Harare Attorney General’s Office: +263 4 781769/774586
Bulawayo Public Prosecutor: + 263 9 63173