The 83 members arrested on Monday for a peaceful protest about community safety appeared in Harare Magistrate’s Court this morning charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 46, as read with Section 2(v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Code – ‘criminal nuisance’. It transpires that police decided to go with these charges instead of obstructing traffic. They were granted free bail and remanded out of custody to 6 October.
The state had tried to get bail set at US $ 50 each and for each of the 83 to report to Harare Central Police Station every Friday but the magistrate refused these conditions, saying that they were too severe for the nature of the charges.
Having been dismissed from court, WOZA leaders were speaking to the group across the road from court, trying to ascertain which of the recently released members needed medical attention when police officers insisted that Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator, accompany them to the police post inside Harare Magistrate’s Court for addressing the group. They accused her of ‘addressing a gathering’ and tried to get her to sign a caution admitting that she had addressed a gathering at court. When she attempted to explain that she was merely attempting to provide assistance to those that had been recently released, Inspector Majuru insisted that she be placed under arrest and taken to Law and Order at Harare Central. She is currently being held at Harare Magistrate’s Court until police can provide transport to Harare Central.
WOZA condemns this harassment of its members by police.