82 members remain in custody overnight

It has been confirmed that 82 members are in custody in Bulawayo this evening following arrests after protests at ZESA offices. Others arrested were released this afternoon. Four mothers with babies were released into their lawyer’s custody and are required to report back to Bulawayo Central tomorrow morning.

28 are being held at Bulawayo Central, 10 at Sauerstown, 34 at Queen’s Park and 10 at Mzilikazi.

Disturbing reports have emerged that the 18 members who were being held at Luveve Police Station were made to strip naked, spending the whole day in a state of undress. When two members of the WOZA support team attempted to bring food into the group, they too were arrested. One of these young girls, aged 18, was tortured by Detective Assistant Inspector Tshuma and Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya of CID Law and Order. She was beaten and an electric cord was tied around her waist with threats that they would plug it in if she did not divulge where the money to buy the food had come from. She was later released and has since received medical attention for her injuries. She also delivered a message from DAI Tshuma and DS Ngwenya that Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu would be beheaded when next caught by police and WOZA members would never see them again.

Lawyers were not informed that members were being taken to Mzilikazi and the whereabouts of the group being held at Mzilikazi was only discovered at 8pm after a team went from police station to police station trying to find the missing members. As a result, this group did not receive any food for dinner. They actually have not eaten all day as the entire group was also denied food at lunchtime, even though the lawyer had received permission that food could be brought in. The head of CID Law and Order at Bulawayo Central, G Ndlovu chased those with the food away. Some food was taken and locked away in Ngwenya office. There is no food available for those in police custody, as government does not have budget for food.

Another incident occurred when WOZA Co-ordinator, Jenni Williams was attempting to deliver food to Bulawayo Central. DAI Tshuma came upon Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu parked ready to off-load food. Tshuma, who was driving a blue van, blocked Williams’ vehicle that had to manoeuvre to get away.

It is unclear what charges have been brought against the group, if any, but some have already been fingerprinted and some forced to respond to charges without a lawyer present.

Police phone numbers are:
Bulawayo Central: (+263 9) 72515 / 61706
Mzilikazi: (+263 9) 202908 / 212905
Queens Park: (+263 9) 22641/2
Sauerstown: (+263 9) 200960 / 218432