The Fourteen people arrested yesterday afternoon were released last night without charge.
Seven members, 3 women and 4 men arrested on 28 February 2011 in two separate incidents in Entumbane and Mabutweni, Bulawayo appeared in court today 2 March 2011. They and were granted bail on payment of $50 each. Other conditions of bail included that they must report to the Law and Order department of Bulawayo Central police station, twice a week, Mondays and Fridays; surrender their travel documents; not interfere with witnesses and reside at their given addresses.
They were charged with C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: “Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public”.
They were represented by Matshobana Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He argued that the state was ill-advised to proceed with charges and cited a landmark Supreme Court ruling obtained by WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu from a 16 October 2008 arrest. Defence lawyer Ncube applied for charges against the seven to be dropped when they next appear as the ruling means the matter will not be successfully taken to trail. Ncube also advised that all seven had been tortured in custody prompting the magistrate to order the prosecutor to investigate this allegation. The activists were assaulted by police officers and were also beaten Falanga style, which is to beat someone on the soles of their feet to try to prevent easy detection.
The seven were then ordered to reappear in remand court on 16 March, they are now enroute to medical doctors.
The matter was heard by Magistrate Rukweza and Jerry Mutsindikwa represented the state.
WOZA leaders would like to acknowledge the magistrates for hearing this matter, as they were about to go on strike for a more pay. This is the sort of non-violent action, WOZA activists are often arrested for. We wish them well as they engage a government that could not care less that USD250 is hardly a living wage although most Zimbabweans get far less.