SIX women arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 were finally located by lawyers who had to search go door to door at suburban police stations. They located them at 3 police stations, Sauerstown, Hillside and Donnington. The six are Teresia Phiri 45yrs, Janet Dube 45 yrs, Juliet Nyathi 29 yrs, Thobekile Ncube 37 yrs, Sibekezele Nkomo 30 yrs, and Loyce Ndlovu whose age is yet to be determined. They had not eaten for 24hours as a result of being hidden away from lawyers and relatives. Human Rights lawyer, Kossam Ncube was finally granted access at 2pm Friday. The six were charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property. They will spend the weekend in custody until they appear on Monday the 23rd of May at Bulawayo Magistrate Court at 8am.
Two of the women had been beaten upon arrest and had been prodded with a charged pistol until reaching the police station, 2km away from the arrest point. When arriving at Western Commonage police station, police officers compared their names to their ‘list’ of WOZA activists. They were then taken to Bulawayo Central where they were split up to the suburb stations.
WOZA has been aware that members of the ruling Zanu PF party were being asked to get the names of WOZA activists and give the names to the police. As political debate rages on about election dates and Zanu PF activists enjoy the freedom to move about forcing people to sign their anti sanctions petition, the politicised police force has been ordered to increase repression on human rights defenders. It is sad to note that the affordable electricity WOZA Defenders are campaigning will have more direct impact on ordinary people than the anti-sanctions petition of Zanu PF.
On Friday morning, a police vehicle was seen in Iminyela suburb with Thobekile and Janet on board and they went to 3 homes trying to secure the arrest of further members. Finding the women not at home, CID law and Order Detective Assistant Inspector Chikango then arbitrarily arrested a hostage – 17 year old Professor Nkala, leaving a note summonsing his mother Mavis Sibanda to follow to the Law and Order Department of Bulawayo Central.
Professor was interrogated and then released late afternoon but DAI Chikango followed him home and took him away again. He returned home 30 minutes later having been beaten to divulge the mobile number of another leader.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, Section 140 Malicious damage to property reads: Any person who, knowing that another person is entitled to own, possess or control any property or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that another person may be so entitled, damages or destroys the property.
(a) intending to cause such damage or destruction; or
(b) realising that there is a real risk or possibility that such damage or destruction may result from his or her act or omission; shall be guilty of malicious damage to property, and liable to.
(i) a fine not exceeding level fourteen or not exceeding twice the value of the property damaged as a result of the crime, whichever is the greater; or
(ii) imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-five years;