Six released, another six & baby arrested in a ‘Power’ Protest

SIX women arrested appeared in Tredgold Magistrate Court on Monday 23 May and were granted bail on condition they lodged $100 bail each, report fortnightly on Fridays at Western Commonage Police Station. They appeared before Magistrate Gideon Ruvetsa, with public prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They were arrested on the night of Wednesday 18th May.

According to the State outline, the charge is malicious damage to property and three people are still at large.  The complainant is Bulawayo City Council represented by Lengama Douglas Ncube of the Engineering department.

The six were represented by human rights lawyer Kossam Ncube and Godfrey Nyoni. The lawyers notified the court that they will challenge the charge on the 6th of June which is the next time the six will appear in Court for a remand hearing. Lawyers also put into court record that the accused were denied food and that the police officers threatened them with death and disappearance and verbally abused them by referring to them as prostitutes. Under this duress, five of the accused admitted to the charge. This took place in the absence of their lawyers despite officers being well aware of the legal team. Over the weekend two homes were raided without any search warrant but not arrests were made.

The state case is based on ‘malicious damage to property’ but they will have to prove what repairs are needed and how they have calculated the damage at US$345.00 when the paint used is normal road paint which is used to draw traffic lines and fades over time.

150 WOZA members in Pumula, Bulawayo today marched to their local Electricity company office carrying a mock coffin to symbolise the burial of Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). They began their march from a nearby shopping centre, intending to march past the police station to the ZETDC office but a vehicle drove out and dispersed them.

Police officers on bicycles then chased the activists but many managed to double back to the door of ZETDC to deliver the yellow cards and coffin. A drama ensured with residents shouting at police officers to stop chasing people as they do not have electricity themselves. All the police officers seem to come out to pick up and read the yellow cards, flyers and placards.

As the protest dispersed, six members, Simangaliso Msimanga, Grace Moyo, Pretty Chivunge, and Sikhangezile Sibanda and Memory Matandare with her 3month old baby and another have been arrested and handcuffed. Lawyers have been deployed.