Police raid, invade WOZA members private meeting place


AT ELEVEN am on 10th June 2011, seven or eight men who identified themselves as police officers arrived at the gate of a venue WOZA members use for their internal meetings. They did not produce any search warrant and were extremely aggressive. A lawyer for Human Rights was immediately asked to attend the scene to demand any search warrant and observe the processes police would undertake.

Two of the Police officers noticed at the gate were notorious perpetrators of torture George Levison Ngwenya and Moyo from Law and Order department of Bulawayo Central Police Station. WOZA members present resolved to exit through the backyard and moments after Riot police arrived and police forced the motorised gate open and gained entry.

Shortly after this a tenant who is not a member of WOZA arrived and was immediately beaten by police who demanded to know where the occupants were. The lawyers, Kossam Ncube and Nosimilo Chanayiwa from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had arrived outside the gate but were threatened with extreme violence by police and ordered to leave.

Since Friday police officers have invaded the property and over the weekend armed guards were observed taking in the winter sun in the yard.

Later that afternoon, the lawyer, Mr Ncube, visited the offices of the Law and Order Department to seek clarification about the ‘invasion’; he was refused clarification and told to present Jennifer Williams and the owner of the house to explain what the house was being used for.

Two privately owned vehicles are also within the yard but in this climate of lawlessness, the owners would risk arrest if they went to get their cars. 

Since the beginning of the year, 38 WOZA members have been arbitrarily arrested and 24 detained and charged under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act. Threats were made that upon the eventual arrest of Williams and Mahlangu, they would be denied bail and imprisoned in the male prison.  This police harassment of WOZA Human rights Defenders provides leaders of the South African Development Community (SADC) with direct proof of the intransigence of the Mugabe regime and their refusal to respect the Global Political Agreement (GPA) of which they are guarantors.  This proves there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms of assembly and expression and end harassment of human rights defenders. The practice of persecution and punishment by arrest, detention and prosecution in the absence of any genuine suspicion of criminal activity needs urgent addressing through security sector reform.

Their targeting of WOZA in this way shows their inability to deliver a new Zimbabwe where people can live a dignified life, free to express their views. It is because of this that the nonviolent social justice movement remains fast expanding and has capacity to mobilise Zimbabweans to demand full enjoyment of all their rights. 

It  is our view that that the raiding of our members’ private meeting place means the regime has made the last leap from its ‘pretended democracy’ and respect for the rule of law into the dark abyss of authoritarianism and militarisation.” 

WOZA call on SADC to immediately enforce implementation of the GPA and protect Zimbabweans from this violent state and bring perpetrators to book.
WOZA call on the Joint Operation Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to investigate this illegal raid and force the police to leave our premises forthwith.
WOZA call on Police Commissioner Chihuri to order his officers to cease occupation of our premises with immediate effect and return intact any possessions taken. And to publicly apologise to WOZA.
WOZA call on all police officers to refuse to be used to carry out illegal acts in the name of political supremacy, we call on their family members to prevail upon them to think carefully about their future and personal sanity. There will be a time for their action to be judged if not on this earth then in heaven.
WOZA call on local, regional and international human rights defenders to directly lobby their presidents or prime ministers to put pressure through diplomatic means to stop persecution of human rights defenders and especially women human rights defenders. Special emphasis should be on their rights to peacefully hold their own government to account by direct or indirect street engagement.
WOZA call on Zimbabweans to mobilise themselves to nonviolently demand respect for people will before it is too late. Your mothers need your help.
WOZA as a direct action nonviolent movement, mother of the nation will take action, we will not be silenced.


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