Two WOZA members arrested and detained in Bulawayo for trying to speak to Headmistress

Two WOZA members, Patricia Ndlovu, aged 53, and Georgina Muzaza, aged 84, were arrested yesterday whilst trying to engage the Headmistress of Mpumelelo Primary School. They spent the night at Bulawayo Central Police Station last night. They are still in custody. They have been charged under Section 37 1 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry’.

Members had gathered outside Mpumelelo Primary School in Mpopoma as part of the ongoing engagement with school authorities over unreasonable demands on parents from schools. The headmistress, Mrs Chibelu, kept the representatives waiting in her office whilst she called the police. The two women, both of whom have grandchildren attending Mpumelelo, were arrested outside the gates.

The arrested members were taken to Western Commonage Police Station where they were detained for two hours before being taken to Bulawayo Central Police. Attempts by defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube to get them released into his custody because of their age were denied by Detective Chief Inspector Mpofu of Law and Order Unit and they were detained overnight.

Meanwhile, WOZA parents met with school authorities at Godlwayo and Dumezweni Primary Schools in Pumula where they were assured that they will not send children away for non-payment. At Mahlabi Primary in Tshabalala, the representatives were also promised by the headmaster that no pupils would be sent home for failure to pay fees or civvies days.

In Mabutweni, the headmistresses at Ingubo and Insukamini Primary Schools welcomed the representative groups, listened to their concerns and received their petitions. Both authorities emphasized that they were not chasing any pupils for failure to pay fees as this was a directive from the Ministry of Education. The headmistress at Insukamini said they have civvies day once in a while and she would not chase any pupils if they did not have the money to pay. She highlighted that pupils in her school are not asked to purchase toiletries, stationery or sundries for the school. She commended the way members had gathered around the school in silence and sent in their representatives. She invited members who have children in the school to attend a parents meeting on 25 March.

Meanwhile, headmasters of two schools in Pumula that had been visited yesterday, Malindela and Amaswazi Primary Schools, called a meeting of all parents that had signed the petition and assured them that children would not be sent away from school for not bringing groceries or stationery.

WOZA is deeply concerned by the actions of the headmistress of Mpumelelo Primary School in calling the police when parents at her school merely wished to raise concerns with the school authorities. The arrest and detention of two women, one aged 84 years old, for wanting to discuss their concerns as parents with the headmaster of the school that their grandchildren attend is further evidence that very little has changed on the ground for ordinary Zimbabweans and is an outrage.

Please phone Bulawayo Central Police Station and ask Detective Chief Inspector Mpofu of Law and Order Unit why it is necessary to detain elderly women and demand their immediate release. +263 9 72515/61706/63061/68078

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