Category Archives: Legal documents

Warning to logo thief – stop hiding behind our skirts

tsvangirai flyer using WOZA nameIt has come to the attention of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members that a flyer is being circulated around Bulawayo which uses, without permission, our logo and contact information, including our website address. We disassociate ourselves from this flyer both in content and in its distribution.

This flyer attacks the person of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and accuses him of affairs and abuse of women. Whilst we respect anyone right to freedom of expression and to hold a view, we expected the authors to stand up for their own views and not hide behind WOZA ‘skirts’  to make the personal attack.

WOZA is in the process of investigating the authors and distributors of this flyer with a view to taking legal action against them for impersonating WOZA and using our logo without authorisation.

Meanwhile we suggest that the originators of such leaflets cease and desist from such unethical practice and WOZA advise them to stop using WOZA logo and reputation.

WOZA members have never needed feeding of messaging from strangers; members are quite capable of authoring, preparing, distributing their own messages and reserve the right to do so without prompting by this ‘hidden hand’.

Note: Attachment of the flyer is done for purposes of context of the statement and to confirm our disassociation with it only.

WOZA take right to protest complaint to African Commission

On 13th April 2013 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) legal representatives from Washington based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed a communication to the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights during its 53rd session in Banjul, The Gambia.

The applicants in this communication are Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu and WOZA. The two WOZA leaders have been arrested over 50 times in the 10 years of WOZA’s existence. Williams has filed as the official representative of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

The communication demonstrates Zimbabwe’s clear and systematic pattern of suppression of WOZA’s rights to engage in peaceful protest and public demonstrations. It details over 24 incidents of violations over the course of two years of the Applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, non-discrimination, and equal protection of the law-all protected by the African Charter.

Article 6 of the Charter states that every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained. Article 9 of the Charter, protects the right to freedom of expression, and states that every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

WOZA are of the view therefore that the right to engage in peaceful protest is an “essential and constituent element of democracies” and anchored by the twin pillars of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

Pending the finalization of this matter the two activists and WOZA members have requested the African Commission to grant provisional measures interdicting the Republic of Zimbabwe from interfering in any way with the Applicant’s right to peaceful protest and public demonstrations, particularly in the time period between the date of filing this communication and the 2013 Zimbabwean elections. In particular, the Applicants requested the African Commission to interdict the Republic of Zimbabwe to refrain from arresting or detaining the Applicants and other members of WOZA when they are engaging in peaceful protest and public demonstrations as protected by the Charter.

The applicants also requests that the Commission orders the Republic of Zimbabwe take measures to facilitate the right to engage in peaceful protest and public demonstrations and remove any restriction of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly in law or practice that is incompatible to the Human and Peoples Rights Charter.

The timing of this communication is due to escalation of repression on civic society organisations and the shrinking space for exercising and protecting human rights as Zimbabwe gears for harmonised election.

WOZA took this course of action after the Zimbabwe Republic Police have failed to respect the Supreme Court ruling of 26 November 2010. (Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu v. Phathekile Msipha, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, Judgment No. SC 22/10). The ZRP continue to clamp down on WOZA and the repression has taken the form of criminalising peaceful processions and WOZA gatherings. The police have disturbed hundreds of peaceful processions, indiscriminately beating and arresting over 3000 members. During the 10th peaceful processions of Saint Valentine’s Day on 13 February, in Harare and in Bulawayo on 14 February 2013, police deployed tear gas, beat and arrested members.

Additionally, WOZA members who were marching on 13th November 2012 to demand Bulawayo city council adhere to water load shedding timetables and that the council deal with politicisation of water supply were beaten, insulted and dumped at a graveyard. The level of tribal insults and the symbol of dumping the members at the graveyard are serious threats against the organisation and its members. WOZA analysis points to a more direct tribal repression being practiced in Bulawayo by Police officers based there. This repression is part of the marginalisation of the region despite the fact that the orders carried out by Bulawayo police officers originate from the same command structure in Harare.

Despite this harassment by Police officers, WOZA have painstakingly attempted to engage the police leadership. Specific request have been that they follow the legal guidelines on dispersing peaceful protests rather than perpetrating abuses. When this failed, letters of complaint were written and ignored. The Joint Monitoring and Operating Committee (JOMIC) refused to deal with WOZA complaints arguing that their mandate was to focus on political parties despite clear requirements detailed under the global political agreement.

After the so-called Arab spring, repression increased and the Supreme Court ruling became completely ignored, leaving the human rights defenders without a route to hold the Police accountable and their right to assembly and peacefully express their views severely diminished.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic movement with a countrywide membership of over approximately 85,000 women and men formed in 2002 to lobby and advocate on issues affecting women and their families in Zimbabwe. WOZA participates in a variety of campaigns locally and internationally and has conducted hundreds of peaceful protests and public demonstrations in Zimbabwe since 2002. WOZA’s express aim is to mobilise Zimbabweans, especially women, to demand social justice and it educates its members about their rights and freedoms and asks them to fully participate in all civic processes. WOZA conducts civic education programmes and teaches its members nonviolent ways to speak out about their issues.

195 arrested during Valentines Day protests, 50 beaten, Bertha remains in custody

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members in Harare and Bulawayo conducted their traditional Valentine’s Day protests and both protests were marred by beatings and arrests. This is the 11th year WOZA has conducted such a protest and this year’s theme is under the theme – One Love.  One hundred and ninety five were arrested then released after some hours but one woman remains in custody.

At 2 o’clock on 13 February 2013, Harare members marched towards parliament in two separate formations.  Riot Police based at Parliament disrupted the both protests and fired 5 canisters of tear gas to disperse the over 1000 strong protest sending members and bystanders scurrying for cover. Many people were affected by the tear gas and some children were seen crying. Business came to a standstill due to this indiscriminate use of force to disrupt a peaceful protest.

Over 25 members had to seek medical attention including the 8 members who were arrested at parliament and beaten by the 8 Riot police during the 20 minute wait for the police van to take them into custody. A ninth bystander a male, had his cell phone taken and was separated from the others and beaten for over 20minutes between the police reaction group headquarters in Harare’s Cramborne Barracks and Harare Central police station.

The 8 arrested were Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa, Hilda Murapa, Enia Mazambare, Tambudzai Manangazira, Siphetheni Ndlovu and Maria Majoni. As the women arrived at the Police station, the receiving police officer chided his uniformed colleagues for ‘arresting WOZA’ and told them to take them away. For over 2 hours no progress was made and it was unclear if the 8 were in detention or not but their liberty was obviously curtailed. After they were release all 9 including the bystander spent another 3 hours lodging a formal complaint about the beatings, tear gas and abuse they had suffered. A police report number is available for the complaint. All nine then were taken to hospital for treatment and x-rays for the brutality meted out on them at Parliament.

On 14February 2013 members in Bulawayo conducted their Valentine’s Day protest. Members decided to march to the police Headquarters in 9th Avenue, at Southampton House. Members wanted to demand that the Police respond to formal complaints about police beatings and brutality. Police brutality prevailed during a Water protest on 12 November. WOZA then marched to hand over a protest on 29 November but no response was forthcoming.

The 4pm protest began with smoothly but when the 8 protest groups number 800 members neared Southampton house, Riot police swooped and began indiscriminately beating members. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu managed to regroup the protest and after many skirmishes managed to get the members to sit down on the pavement so that official proceedings could begin. As this began senior ranking officers repeated order for Riot officer to beat the two activists who were still recovering from the Harare protest assault.  Police officers began arresting any male person they observed with a camera, numbering 6.

The police boss then requested Williams to go upstairs to the officer to dialogue with the police provincial leadership. After obtaining assurances that nothing would befall the members and that the 6 men arrested would return with Williams, her and a colleague went upstairs.

The meeting was to be short-lived as the officers were obviously not cooperative and kept blocking progress by insisting on a formal letter requesting an appointment to receive feedback on the many complaint letters.  The meeting came to an abrupt end when Williams was telephoned by Magodonga Mahlangu to say all the participants had been arrested by the Riot Reaction group and taken to the Bulawayo Central Police station. Williams then walked out of the meeting and handed herself into custody with 179 other members. The 6 male members were also still in custody at Southampton house.

The same police bosses who had attempted to meet Williams, then arrived at the station and misled the meeting with Williams had been fruitful and that they did not know why or how the members came to be in the police station but that they should leave immediately. Williams then addressed members say they would leave police custody but only if the missing 6 male members were also released as they had all been together. Without any further dialogue the officers barked order to the Riot Reaction group to remove the 180 members forthwith from the police station.  A few members were then beaten again.

It transpired that of the six men that remained in custody only 1 is a WOZA members, the others bystanders who took photos of the protest. They were this night tortured by intelligence agents and then released home for the night with instructions to return at 9am on 15 February.

The woman, Bertha Sibanda is in custody for ‘indecent exposure’. She was one of the 180 in custody and she stripped naked in the police station in frustration at not having her complaints addressed. She is one of the 11 members who were in a Water protest that police violently disturbed and was subjected to tribal insults about Gukurahundi when she lost family to this massacre. complaint police harrasment to ZRP 13nov incident and Follow up letter 14 Feb13 police complaint

Meanwhile 6 members had medical attention, one of who has to have 3 teeth pulled due to batons stick injury to her mouth. Several members have reported being called by police officers requesting information about the protest plans and made the offer of money for information. Two of the calls were made from Bulawayo number 60248 Code (00 263 9). WOZA suspect this number to be of an intelligence office. WOZA invite activism to assist us in holding this intelligence office accountable for harassment and beating of WOZA members in an attempt to curtail their right to protest.

WOZA handed over their demands contained in the February 2013 Woza Moya Newsletter.  Woza Moya Feb 2013

Protest delivers complaint direct to Police Office in Bulawayo

AT 11am 300 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to Police Officers in Southampton House.  November 29th is Women Human Rights Defenders Day an appropriate day to deliver a letter of complaint about police harassment.

This protest is the second in respect of the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence under the international theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women! But WOZA will use a shortened version – PEACE NOW!

As the 5 separate protests arrived on the pavement outside Southampton House, WOZA national coordinator Jenni Williams was arrested and moments later Programmes Coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu was arrested. Undeterred, the two leaders encouraged members to join them on the pavement. Once most members were present, the command to ‘sit and observe non violent discipline’ was chanted and members sat down. The arresting police officers quickly backed off to the door of Southampton House blocking entrance.

The activists then engaged police to request the Complaints Desk officer come downstairs to receive the letter of complaint.  Various police officers came back and forth trying to coerce Williams and Mahlangu to go into the building to deliver the letter but sensing a trap they declined. The letter of complaint calls on the Bulawayo Commanding Officers to investigate the behaviour of police officers on 13 November 2012. WOZA also call for the arrest of police officer Mukoshi and his colleagues who participated in this violence and perpetrated cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment inflicted on WOZA members. WOZA has given the police command 7 days to investigate this matter or they will take up the matter by other legal means.

Included in the 20 minute protest programme was speeches and testimonies by various members who had been beaten by police. Three of those beaten testified and described their injuries and the insults and abuse by police. A huge crowd gathered and bystanders also aired their sympathy and booed the police for insulting members for speaking isiNdebele language. In defiance of the unofficial ban of the Ndebele language, the activist only sang Ndebele songs: Thina silwela amalungelo (We are standing up for our rights) and Lamulela Amapholisa bayasitshaya (help us by intervening, the police are beating us)

At this time 2 more senior officers attended and said they could not accept the letter referring the activist to Bulawayo District Police chief based at Ross Camp. They ignored requests to receive the letter as they have done on several occasions. Williams and Mahlangu then requested their escort to Ross Camp several city blocks away but the two officers contradicted each other. Seeing the indecision, the two leaders announced that the procession would move to Ross camp.  The procession then reformed and began to march.

Along the route at the St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and members decided to kneel and pray as they walked past. It was as they were kneeling that a truck of Riot police arrived and jumped from their vehicles beating several members kneeling in prayer. Serious injury was averted by the arrival of another senior officer who then insisted Williams and Mahlangu get into the van. However the junior officers refused to open the tail gate of the van and there was no female officer to assist the two into the vehicle. The senior officer then suggested that he wanted to drive only the two leaders to deliver their letter to the District Commanding Officer at Ross Camp.

Further pandemonium resulted as an overzealous officer then tried to arrest a young man and members had to surround him to prevent his victimization. Calm was then restored when the senior officer said he should be released and Williams was asked to calm the members down with the promise that no arrested would be made.

Williams and Mahlangu then asked the protest participants to sit quietly and await their return from the District Command Office. They were escorted into a police double cab but as they were pulling away the District Commanding Officer arrived and agreed to officially receive the letter of complaint and sign for it. Williams and Mahlangu then announced the end of the protest 45minutes after it started and members quietly walked to the Bus terminus without being disturbed.

After supervising this dispersal, Williams and Mahlangu then headed back to town to run some errands but this proved difficult as over 6 plain clothed officers followed them and monitored them, seemingly wanting to secure a late arrest. However Williams and Mahlangu managed to lose the officers and avoid further harassment.

Background note: In 1982 to 83, the North Koreans trained the Zimbabwe Army Fifth Brigade and they were deployed into Matabeleland and Midlands and perpetrated a massacre of mostly Ndebele speaking people who were perceived to support the opposition party of late Joshua Nkomo. This campaign was called Gukurahundi, a Shona language word meaning the first rains that wash away the rubbish. During those tragic years, the massacre went unreported as then primeminister Robert Mugabe was feted internationally. Mugabe has since owned up by calling the massacre a ‘moment of madness’. At present many of the 20000 people estimated to have been killed remain unaccounted for and their bodies have never been located.  complaint police harrasment to ZRP 13nov incident

Members arrested, beaten and 11 dumped in a cemetery out of town

Medical UPDATE – One member has a fractured hand, an injury from a baton stick. Three members lost their shirts which were torn and tatteredafter blows from the baton stick wielding police officers.

WATER shortage protests continued in Bulawayo with 57 members arrested and beaten. The first edition of the protest began at 11am targeting the Council administration Tower block. A squad of 4 Riot Police disrupted the peaceful protest and surrounded 35 members. After 15 minutes senior police officers, one identified as the Controller, arrived and engaged the group announcing that he was ‘driving them off’. He was semi professional and no one was beaten or taken them into custody.

As midday struck 5 additional protests began separately all intending to converge on the Government complex. The first protest reached the Mhlahlandlela complex but a green truck carrying the reaction squad with 12 Riot Police. They quickly arrested 11 members, 9 women and 2 men and took them across the road to the Drill Hall, placing them under guard at 12:15.

The same vehicle then drove to the intersection H. Chitepo Street and 10th Avenue. The police officers disembarked to beat members were marching towards the complex. They indiscriminately beat even passes by. As they beat people these officers loudly shouted insults and violently beat anyone in their path. They shouted tribal and gender obscenities referring to the Ndebele people and calling the women prostitutes.

The second 11 were then arrested by the same squad, one referred to as Mukoshi who said he did not care if the activists knew his name. He also said with great support and approving laughter from his colleague, ‘this country was liberated by blood and only those who spilt blood can be the ones to talk.’ He went on to ask them to answer his question in the Shona language – Do they have their own dams, why are they asking for water.

The 11 were then forced to sit in the truck and driven to Bulawayo Central. When they got there and as they were disembarking, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chief law officer was present. The officer commanding Bulawayo Chief Inspector Rangwani  arrived and shouted at the officers asking them what they had brought these women to the police station. He said take them back to where you got them. The driver of the police truck in the hearing of Lizwe Jamela said he would not take them back to Drill Hall but would drive them into the bush and dump them. He promptly drove away toward Victoria Falls with the lawyer in pursuit dumping them at a cemetery out of town. Four members are being seen by the doctor and many others are being attended by the WOZA medical support triage. The first 11 members arrested have also since been released so no members are left in custody at this time.

WOZA have argued that there is a tribal element of the manner in which police in Bulawayo treat WOZA members and this has today been further confirmed by the insults of all the Riot Officers. The women were called prostitutes and told not to speak to each other in the Ndebele language as the Ndebele people were all killed off by Gukurahundi in the 1980s. please see the list of demands http://wozazimbabwe.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Woza-Moya-WATER-November-2012.pdf

African Commissioners and UN Special Rapporteur defend right to protest

During 6 to 8th June 2012, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) national coordinator Jenni Williams attended international human rights experts meeting is Oslo, Norway hosted by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Williams presented the story of WOZA and its mandate of peaceful protest and the brutality of the state in trampling upon the right to peaceful protest.

Amongst those attending were Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders of the Africa commission on human and people rights, Reine Alapini-Gansou; the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, Maina Kai; on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue; and on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya.

The African Commission Special Rapporteur Reine Alapini-Gansou and the two United Nations Special Rapporteurs have since released statements as a result of the meeting.

The statement reads in part “everyone without discrimination should be free to participate in peaceful protests and no one should be subjected to threats or acts of violence for addressing human rights issues through peaceful protest.”  please see the following UN and African Commission press statements on link: Oslo statement FINAL   and Press release PEACEFUL PROTEST

Bulawayo members march to demand Draft release

Two hundred and fifty members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in five separate protests at 2pm 10th September 2012 in Bulawayo. The march was to demand the release of the Copac draft constitution, calling for the second all stakeholders and referendum without any further delay. All five protests managed to reach the targeted destination which was The Chronicle newspaper. WOZA routinely target this state controlled paper in order to test if their protest and the issues will be covered. The peaceful protest brought 9th Avenue to a standstill with everyone attempting to photograph and encourage the activists to demand the draft constitution.
Although riot police were deployed they did not reach the 9th Avenue officers of the newspaper before the protest dispersed. WOZA is conducting a head count to ensure no arrests were made.

Meanwhile two members were ordered by the court to erase their graffiti did so at noon on 10th September 2012 along the Luveve road in Bulawayo. The two faced cruel and inhuman degrading treatment by law and order officers who were present. One of the police officers, Z. Moyo forced the two to remove their hats whilst and paint over the phrases in the blazing hot summer sun. They then made them remove other phrases not in the court order and threatened to make them remove more phrases during the afternoon. The prosecutor advised them that they were only to fulfil the order of the court for two phrases namely ‘no to a snap elect…’ and ‘go register to vote’.

Painting trial update

Nine members arrested during a graffiti road writing exercise on 2nd July 2012 have been sentenced in four separate trials held in Western Commonage Court in Bulawayo. Eight of the nine members were convicted and given harsh sentences with one being acquitted. The women spent three days in custody in Bulawayo central police station. The graffiti exercise was conducted to popularise the constitutional reform content. Members wrote phrases in non-permanent paint called ‘road liner’ paint but the magistrates found them guilty of ‘disfiguring property’ namely the tarmac road.

The charges were Section 47 (2) (d) of the Road Traffic Act 13:18 which reads “making marks on the road without a reasonable cause which is liable to a level 6 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months. They were defended by Paul Moyo a private lawyer deployed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Miriam Ngcebetsha and Ottilia Dube were ordered to remove their phrases at 11am Monday 10th of September before being sentenced on 12 September 2012. They will remove the phrases in the company of the prosecutor with traffic police officers stopping the traffic as they perform this sentence. They painted the phrases – ‘no to a snap elect…’ and ‘go register to vote’. The phrases are located in Matshobana (at the Rio bus stop/turn off) along the Luveve road after the flyover (6th ave ext).

Some of the phrases written on the road are “Devolution of power; No to death penalty; Fire Chihuri, Tomana and Mudede; Boycott snap election and go register to vote.” Many roads in Bulawayo and Harare still proudly carry these messages.

In the first week of August, just after the trials began, an unidentified police officer contacted WOZA to warn members to expect the worst from the trials. He said the Police Commissioner (Augustine Chihuri) was very unhappy with the audacity of WOZA to call for his firing defending himself by saying he was legitimately appointed by the president. The Police Commissioner is alleged to have ordered harsh sentences. Additionally the commissioner ordered that Law and Order department police officers attend every trial and report on progress. Apart from the obvious attendance by these police officers in court it was difficult to substantiate this order as the judiciary is supposed to be independent. However the handing down of the harsh sentences seems to confirm political interference. In further confirmation of political intervention, city council staff were deployed along the Khami road (11th Ave extension) to paint over the phrases to prevent the dignitaries driving that route from ‘seeing and reading’ the phrases.

Eunice Moyo, Mpikelelo Moyo and Teresia Phiri were given one month imprisonment or $100 fine. Their phrase is ‘no to death penalty’.

Sibongile Lumbile was sentenced to two months imprisonment, one month suspended for five years on condition that she does not commit a similar crime, or $100 fine which she paid. Phrase which was incomplete is ‘Devolutior’ (she was arrested before she could finish writing the N in the word.

Catherine Dhliwayo was acquitted of all charges but Vigilant Lunga, Violet Dube who handed over their paint splattered clothes to investigating officers who brought these as exhibits, were sentenced to six months imprisonment, three months suspended for five years on condition that they will not commit the similar crime within that period or 105 hours of community services. Violet Dube will serve these hours at Western Commonage Court and Vigilant Lunga at the Western Commonage police station. They were also ordered to go and erase the phrase that they wrote on the road. Phrase is ‘Devolution of power’.

WOZA thank Mr. Paul Moyo and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for legal defence. WOZA pray for a successful reduction of the harsh sentences from the High Court in the case of the four members who have submitted appeals.

WOZA wish to recognize the contribution of the members to furthering the constitution reform agenda. “You suffered the terrible conditions in the cells and harassment of police officers but won gender equality and many constitutional reform victories which are seen in the draft. May Zimbabweans appreciate your sacrifices when the draft constitution passes into law!”

Harrasment and court appearances

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared in Court today on the kidnap and theft charges before a stand in magistrate in Regional Court Tredgold Bulawayo. They were represented by a stand in lawyer who was not aware of the case details. The prosecutor Mr Katenaire initially agreed to a further month long remand but when the matter came before the stand in Magistrate Katenaire took advantage of the new lawyer and did an about turn and remanded the 2 accused to the 15th August. He submitted to the court that on that date the defence had to explain the delay in getting the Review in the High Court completed. As this date proved problematic, the magistrate was asked by the Accused Jennifer Williams to remand them to Monday 30 July.

On Monday, the two accused will have to get a lawyer strong enough to argue that the defence have no control over when the High Court will hear the matter. The accused won a High Court stay of proceeding in the regional court but the Magistrate Sengweni and Prosecutor Mr Katenaire refused to remove the two off court remand appearances. On the 3rd of July a formal written request was made to the High Court applying for the matter to be heard. The prosecutor seems determined to ignore these facts and proceed with the Trial.

The two accused, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu feel that their treatment is part of ongoing harassment and persecution by prosecution. It is also the states covert strategy to keep them sitting in court rooms instead of conducting peaceful protests.

This harassment has seen the recent arrests of 9 members for graffiti including the message ‘fire Chihuri’ (the police commissioner). Arresting police officers expressed their displeasure at the call for the firing of the police commissioner and sent threatening messages to Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. During this period of arrest, they visited the home of a member at 11pm on 2nd July demanding she take them to the home of the two for their arrest to be carried out. On 30 June the guard dogs at the home of Magodonga Mahlangu were poisoned and one died. This is the second incident were cruel police officers have targeted her dogs when they could not get to her. The home of Williams has been visited by police officers on 4th and 24th July who left no messages but harassed neighbours about the whereabouts of Williams. WOZA fears the imminent arrest of the two leaders as retaliation for calling for the firing of the police commissioner. This sort of behaviour is precisely why the activists have called for Chihuri to be fired.

Meanwhile the 9 members arrested and charged for graffiti will face four separate trials starting on Monday 30 July in Western Commonage Court in Bulawayo. Sibongile Lumbile’s 30th of July 2012 in court C; Mpikelelo Moyo, Eunice Moyo and Teresia Phiri – 3 August 2012 court B; Ottilia Dube and Miriam Ngcebetsha 6 August 2012 court A; Cathrine Dliwayo, Violet Dube and Vigilant Lunga on 7 August 2012 in Court D.

See the story on http://www.newsday.co.zw/article/2012-07-04-protesters-call-for-chihuris-head/

Graffiti Members released on $50 bail

NINE members arrested on Monday 2nd July 2012 finally appeared in Western Commonage Court 5th July 2012. They were granted bail of $50 each and will reappear in Court on 18th July 2012. All of the members had to seek medical attention due to the poor custody conditions. Sibongile Lumbile being in bad shape as she was never taken to hospital but kept in an office and the police lied about her whereabouts thereby meaning she did not get to eat the food brought bought in by the support team till the next day.

They were charged and appeared in Court in four separate batches under Section 49 as read with part 2(a)(vi) of the Third schedule of the Criminal (Codification and Reform Act).  Which reads “Any person who wantonly or mischievously dislodges or disfigure any property shall be guilty of criminal nuisance and liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 ($200) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months. They were defended by Paul Moyo a private lawyer deployed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The delay in bringing them to court was a result of the Homicide police refusing to deal with WOZA as they argued that WOZA is dealt with by the Law and Order Department of the police.

The nine members were arrested on suspicion that they were part of the members writing messages on the tarmac road, a form of Graffiti.  They were arrested in different suburbs of the city around Bulawayo from 7pm to 11pm on Monday night. This is part of the campaign to demand the draft constitution and calling for the firing of political presidential appointees – police commissioner, Attorney general and the registrar general.

WOZA was formed 10 years ago to provide women with a platform to speak out on issues affecting their daily life. Peaceful protest forms a key mandate for the members to speak out in a country where the media is state controlled. The writing of messages also forms part of the communication tools of campaigning as it provides an ‘in your face’ promotion of opinion and educates citizens on topical issues.

WOZA would like to acknowledge the solidarity and support statements from Civic organisations and the MDC. We are thankful that all nine members were released and are sure they appreciate the solidarity.

Seven arrested after WOZA members conduct Die-in protests

MEMBERS numbering 500 of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) at 10 am Tuesday 19 June 2012 conducted 3 protest actions called a Die-in. The activists handed out flyers calling for the release of the draft constitution and demanding devolution. Motorists responded by hooting their approval.  The United Nations World Refugee Day is commemorated on 20th June worldwide.

Seven members were arrested at the Joshua Nkomo Statue intersection protest at Main Street and 8th Avenue and lawyers have been deployed but police are denying arresting any members.

Two of the 3 planned protests began whilst the third was stopped by Riot Police who followed the activists for over 30 minutes as they tried to regroup.  This group eventually managed to regroup and conduct their Die-in without incident at Main Street and 6th avenue. The Chronicle, state owned newspaper offices were not spared as members also managed to Die-in there and then left their flyers and placards at the door of the offices.

Shortly after the protests police were deployed into many locations in the city centre. A senior ranking police officer came out of the nearby Police Headquarters walked to the Joshua Nkomo statue with 50 police officers and barked orders to pick up the flyers and to arrest passers-by. He shouted at them saying; ‘how can people sleep in the road in front of you and you don’t see them? You cannot say you can only see papers, go and get them they went there and there’. He manhandled some police officers including one female officer pushing them in the direction of the alleged protesters’.

The members carrying traffic signs and red flags lay down in the intersections faking ‘Death’ as a way to symbolise that Bulawayo is dying and as it is allowed to die, residents will become refugees in their own city. WOZA feel that the reason the economy and the cities like Bulawayo are being left to die lies in the political culture of centralised power and resource control. WOZA are of the view that a key way to change this destructive culture is through a devolved system of government which must be adopted as a principle in the new constitution.

The protest campaign is also a way of putting pressure on politicians to release the constitution that they are holding hostage with their egos and elite ‘pacting’.  WOZA members do not feel another Government of national unity is in their interests but is a way to keep the elite in power and they will boycott any election process conducted without a new constitution.