TWO members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) from St Mary’s in Chitungwiza were arrested on Thursday and spent two nights in custody before being released at noon today. Rachel Ndlovu and Junior Chitombo were picked up by police on Thursday, apparently for the ‘power to the people’ protest conducted at the ZESA office at Zengeza on 23rd April. Lawyers were refused access but food was allowed in. They spent two nights in custody at St Mary’s Police Station as there was no fuel to take them to Central. They were finally transferred to the Law and Order Department at Harare Central on Saturday morning. Upon their arrival, the arresting officers were informed that they did not have a case and were ordered to release the two women.
Meanwhile in Masvingo on Friday, 20 members appeared in remand court after being arrested at the beginning of March whilst launching the Peopleâ€™s Charter. They were remanded to 29 June 2007. The lawyer was unable to obtain an alteration to their bail conditions, which stipulate that they have to report every Friday to Law and Order at Masvingo Central Police Station.
Two Mutare members also report being harassed by police officers and one member had his home illegally searched. President Robert Mugabe is expected to attend a graduation ceremony cap at a Mutare University this weekend and this crack down could be linked to his visit. When he visited Bulawayo last week to open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, Bulawayo leaders were also being hunted for and one officer appealed to a neighbour of one leader asking her to â€˜advise WOZA not to demonstrate when Mugabe was at Trade Fair or they would be severely beatenâ€™. It is gratifying to know that Mugabe fears being held accountable by WOZA and MOZA.
This week, over 700 members of WOZA/MOZA gathered in defiance of ban on meetings in Bulawayo and Harare to evaluate the success of the â€˜power to the peopleâ€™ community based launch protests. They gave haunting testimonies of the beatings and abuse they received whilst in custody. Details of these can be found below.