Court hearing of Williams and Mahlangu postponed to 15 October 2009

WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, were due to appear in Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court this morning for the ongoing saga of their arrest on 16 October 2008. The matter has been postponed until tomorrow, 15 October, however as the clerk of the court who is holding their file was not available. Their file is considered to be too sensitive to be held with other court documents and is apparently being kept by a senior clerk of the court who has it locked away. Although their case was due to be heard at 8.30 this morning, the clerk was not available to present the file.

The full panel of Supreme Court judges had met to consider the case on 4th June and had given a verbal ruling before they reserved judgement that the two women had been unlawfully arrested and that they should be looking to indict the arresting officers. The state had conceded in their response that the arrest on 16th October 2008 had indeed been unlawful. Judge Chidyausiku undertook to provide the written ruling before 7th July. Despite the fact that several requests have been made to the Supreme Court requesting the ruling, the written ruling has not yet been received.

Magodonga Mahlangu and WOZA are the recipients of the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honour courageous and innovative human rights defenders throughout the world who stand up against injustice.