Category Archives: Court hearings

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 messages – Judge for yourself

WOZA women spent 48 hours in the hell hole that is Bulawayo central police station cells. During that time the police hid two of them away in an office denying access to them. Police officers lied that they had rushed Sibongile Lumbile to hospital, instead they ignored her breathing problems and made her sit hidden away in an office thereby denying her access to food for the night. Food has to be brought in by the support team as the police arrest people whom they cannot feed.

The activists had an extra day in custody due to the police homicide department refusing to accept the case and process the activists for court. The excuse – WOZA can only be dealt with by the notorious Law and Order department! Police in this unit are plain clothed intelligence officers who  target opposition voices in Zimbabwe. Officers in this department have pursued WOZA and its leaders on political orders as if WOZA is a public enemy rather than a women’s movement peacefully fighting for social justice.

These are just some of the reasons one of the messages painted on the roads reads ‘Fire Chihuri’ – he is the police commissioner appointed by the President and leads a partisan police force.

Judge for yourself but send us your views or questions regarding this! To help you here are the messages reflected in the police docket put in court papers. The police are accusing the ladies of writing the following messages on the main roads:

Sibongile Lumbile accused of writing ‘DEVOLUTION’. Catherine, Violet and Vigilant accused of writing ‘DEVOLUTION OF POWER’ Mpikelelo, Eunice and Teresia accused of writing ‘NO TO DEATH PENALTY’ Miriam and Ottilia accused of writing ‘No to snap elections and Go and register to vote’

WOZA would like to also acknowledge the hundreds of members who participated in the Monday write-in of messages all over the western suburbs of Bulawayo and Harare.  These are some of their messages they wrote: Free + safe streets/ Freedom of peaceful protest /We want Separation of powers /Gender equality /Free primary school education/ Devolution for development /No to death penalty /Women demand equal pay /Women demand Protection from violence/ Informal trade + licenses /Young President 2 terms /Fire Chihuri /Fire AG Tomana /Fire Mudede /Referendum first /Boycott snap election /Resources for development /Remove militia /Refugees in our own country

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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.

Bitter sweet victory in Supreme Court

On 15 April 2010 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa were arrested and spent six days in detention in filthy conditions in Harare Central Police holding cells after a protest over Electricity supply and high costs. Upon their release on 20 April, instructed their lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to petition the Supreme Court as the conditions constituted inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Section 15 (1) of the constitution.

They were also seeking an order compelling the government to ensure that holding cells at Harare Central Police Station meet basic hygienic conditions. Part of the petition was that their detention also resulted in gender discrimination and called for alterations in structure and procedure to cater for women prisoners.

WOZA cited the co-Minister of Home Affairs, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Attorney General Johannes Tomana as the respondents. The state respondents were represented by Advocate Goba and Ms Mashiri from the AG’s Civil Division.

Advocate Lewis Uriri, Advocate Taona Sibanda, all member lawyers of ZLHR, Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of ZLHR represented the activists.

The activists spent their time in custody in a dark smelly corridor surrounding 10 cells that that they could not occupy due to human waste scattered all over the floors.

Five Supreme Court Judges namely, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, Justice Rita Makarau, Justice Paddington Garwe, Justice Yunus Omerjee and Justice Anne-Mary Gowora convened the court in Harare Central police stations and conducted the inspection of the police cells. The inspection was to provide visual verification as to conditions and during the inspection the 4 activists were called upon to respond to questions.  After an hour long inspection the  court reconvened with a reading out of the observations and presentation of the Heads of argument and state response. After the lengthy arguments the court reserved judgement at 4:20 pm. Current trends indicated that a ruling will be granted within 6 months.

WOZA leaders observed that great attempts had been made by the Police to remove the ‘human waste bomb’ that had been apparent on the first floor cell unit during their arrest. But the respondents who ordered this clean up as a way to ‘rig’ and tried to make Harare central suddenly ‘habitable’ should realise that no amount of floor polish can dignify the undignified conditions that prevail. However the cleaning up has gone a long way to remove the offensive smell that permeated not only the cell chambers but wafted its way into the charge office.
WOZA recognise this as a significant victory for activism but wish it would not have been at the behest of a legal battle but out of common decency. Nevertheless WOZA thank the police for this clean-up effort which will be felt by staff and detainees alike. As the police continue to disrespect constitutional right to freedom of assembly and arrest WOZA members it is most likely that during these visits members will continue to check that the new standards of cleanliness observed with the Supreme Court judges inspection continue to be adhered to.

draft order sought Williams othrs vs HA ZRP AG

Court appearance by members known as the ‘Shosholoza for Love 10’

Members of WOZA arrested on 7 February 2012 appeared for the 15th time in Trial Court One, Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo. The appearance was for delivery of a ruling regarding an application to take the matter to the Supreme Court submitted on 22nd March 2012 after the Magistrate Vivian Dube refused to discharge the matter. Magistrate Vivian Dube was once again absent and stand-in Magistrate Tansy Dube did not issue the ruling but remanded the activists to 20 June 2012.

Defence Lawyer Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights will submit a complaint as the accused have appeared 5times expecting a ruling only for the matter to be remanded. The application is being ignored thereby denying the accused access to the Supreme Court. To make matters worse the Supreme Court has already ruled on similar charges which were protest related. This application was taken by Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest arrest and the ruling held that there had been a deprivation of Williams and Mahlangu right to liberty. Also in that application Magistrate Msipha had denied the right to access the Supreme Court. Magistrate Vivian Dube by her continually delaying the response to the ruling is also effectively denying the activists the right to approach the Supreme Court.

The application lodged in March 2012 seeks to ask the Supreme Court to once again determine the activists’ constitutional right to freedoms of association, assembly and expression, right to liberty and protection of law. It also makes an argument that the application is not frivolous and vexatious despite it having to be taken a second time.

The application draws on international cases such as the Suffragettes movement in the United Kingdom and the United States Civil Rights movements. Activists taking legal challenges for arrests during those periods also made the arguments that public spaces such as roads and parks are spaces for the public expression. The Supreme Court will be asked to assist in reconciling the right to expression and assembly with the argument over the need to protect public order. The application also addresses the role of police in a protest situation citing their power of discretion to disperse the protest rather than arbitrarily arrest the activists. If the application is successfully the activists will be removed off remand for the matter to be determined in the Supreme Court.

Williams and Mahlangu are also facing separate charges for Kidnap and Theft and will reappear in this court for a remand hearing on 30 June 2012. A review for a review of Magistrate Sengweni refusal to discharge the activists is before the High Court. State witnesses provided contradictory testimony and disowned their police prepared statements. The review application also seeks arbitration of court records which indicates the reverse of witness testimony in court under oath. The matter cannot be set for hearing in the High Court as there are backlogs in the magistrates’ court typing pool.

Meanwhile Jennifer Williams and 3 others arrested in April 2010 and kept in horrific conditions in Harare Central Police station for 7 days have taken an application to the Supreme Court regarding the conditions in these police cells. The matter has been set down for hearing on 14 June 2012.

Note: Shosholoza for love was the theme under which WOZA members marched on 7 February 2012. Shosholoza is a word which means ‘push with pressure’ a term used to describe WOZA’s marching mandate.

WOZA application to magistrates court to go to Supreme Court 23march2012

 

Update on 2 Court Appearances

WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu appeared on 26th April 2012 in Regional Court A at Tredgold Magistrates Court before Magistrate Sengweni for a ruling. Magistrate Sengweni refused the application for removal off remand appearances and remanded the activists to return to court on Friday 29 June 2012. The application had been made due to High Court application still pending. The application is for a review of the Magistrate’s decision to drop charges at close of the state case.

On 27 April 2012 10 WOZA members, including the national coordinator Jennifer Williams appeared in Court one in the case of the 7 February arrest during a peaceful Valentines Day protest. The matter was for the Magistrate to rule on an application for a Supreme Court application regarding Criminal Nuisance charges. The Magistrate was not present in court and the matter was remanded to 18 May 2012.

Appearances in Court and 1 arrest

On Thursday 22 March 2012, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared before Magistrate Godwin Sengweni facing Kidnap and Theft charges. Defence lawyer Kossam Ncube produced a High Court order to ‘stay all criminal proceedings’ in Regional Court A and applied for the two activists to be removed off remand appearances in Court pending the outcome of the Review of the Magistrates decision to refuse to discharge Williams and Mahlangu at close of state case.

As has now become a bad habit the state opposed the application and Magistrate Sengweni remanded to activist to 26 April 2012 when he will
give a ruling on if they are to be removed off remand.

On Friday 23 March 2012 Jennifer Williams and 9 other members arrested on 7 February 2012 in Bulawayo and charged with ‘Criminal Nuisance’ appeared in court 1. Their lawyer Lizwe Jamela, Chief Law officer of ZLHR, submitted an application to take a challenge to the Supreme Court. The Prosecutor and Magistrate will respond on 27 April 2012.

This Supreme Court application is in response to the State insistence on charging the activists with peaceful protest related laws when
there is a landmark ruling won by Williams and Mahlangu for their right to protest to be unhindered. This landmark ruling has been
successfully used by scores of activists but the Williams and Mahlangu cannot seem to enjoy it as a legal precedent.

On the 22nd March, Riot Police surrounded the Tredgold Magistrates court monitoring closely the movement of WOZA leaders and members.
Seven police officers chased anyone standing close to the activists so as to isolate them and scrutinise their movement. They even chased
away a mother breastfeeding her baby on the pavement outside the court.

When the 2 members walked across the road to meet another member, 2 Riot police followed them and searched them. One member was found with a WOZA branded scarf – standing up for my rights – which was immediately judged to be seditious and she was surrounded by 4
officers who held onto her clothing and marched her for one city block until a back up vehicle with a truck load of Riot Police arrived to
pick her up and took her to Bulawayo Central police station. She was advised that she would be detained but two minutes later Mr. Jamela of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) arrived the Law and Order plain clothed police officers indicated that she was not under
arrested but was merely picked up for profiling (personal details and affiliations). She was questioned about a ‘proposed’ demonstration
later that day. However WOZA was not planning a protest so she replied that she knew of no such demonstration only Court appearances. She was  then released.

WOZA wish to warn the Police that the public outcry surrounding the searching and arrest our young member should send a strong message
that members of the public are getting irritated with the constant presence of Riot Police in the street conducting arbitrary searches
and chasing people standing in groups away from the city centre. Zimbabweans patience with the military-style policing is wearing thin.

WOZA application to magistrates court to go to Supreme Court 23march2012

Court drama and incarceration of Williams

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared before Magistrate Godwin Sengweni on Monday 12 March 2012. Their appearance was for continuation of Trial. A review process had been submitted to the High Court and is scheduled to be heard on 19 March 2012 before Judge Cheda Senior.

Advocate Perpetua Dube appearing with Godfrey Nyoni made submissions producing evidence of the set down date. They also presented a Doctors certificate in respect to the health of first accused Jennifer Williams and proof of the purchase of medication causing drowsiness. The Defence requested a postponement until the High Court application has been finalised. Prosecutor Goodluck Katenaire vehemently opposed the application insisting Williams was faking illness to stall the proceedings and that she should take the defence stand.  He went onto to complain that ‘these are the people who say justice delayed is justice denied’.  He made accusations that the Doctors certificate and prescription were fake.

Advocate Dube attempted to argue the matter further with a quote; ‘Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done’. But with those wise words and a 45minute adjournment Magistrate Sengweni returned to deliver a shocking ruling. He narrated how Williams could not walk unaided and had to be helped in and out of the dock, that she was obviously unable to pay attention to proceedings. He then referred to the court as a ‘human court’ and ordered that she be sent to prison ‘to save her life and dignity’ and be seen by a prison doctor.  He then remanded both accused persons to reappear before him on 15 March.

Scores of WOZA members attending the court in solidarity verbalised their shock. The court had to adjourn so as to clear the courtroom. A further delay was caused by the search for female prison guards to help Williams out of the dock and down the 4 flight of stairs into the prison holding cells. Riot Police were also summoned to remove the upset WOZA members from the pavement surrounding the Court.

This ‘security threat’ apparently caused by peaceful human rights defenders resulted in the prison guards removing Williams off the court property to the downtown prison complex until she could be transported the 30 kilometres to Mlondolozi prison complex.

Meanwhile noting that Williams did not have her handbag with medication, Mahlangu spent 3 hours trying to locate Williams. Prison officers refused to divulge her whereabouts thereby withholding her access to medication till late the following afternoon.

Fortunately the High Court ruled that the trial proceedings must be stopped; Williams original bail conditions restored and that rescued the situation. Williams won her freedom after 2 days and one night in Mlondolozi prison, most of that time without her medication or food and sleeping on dirty prison blankets in an overcrowded cell with 16 other inmates. Despite the nightmare experience WOZA reports that resilient Williams is recovering at home. She was able with the help of Magodonga Mahlangu to walk into the dock in court today 15 March and was remanded to 22nd March 2012.

The High Court matter is in open court on 19 March 2012 and will deal with the review of the refusal by Magistrate Godwin Sengweni to discharge the activists for the kidnap and theft charge at the close of the state case.
for background visit http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1158

Magistrate refuses to drop Criminal Nuisance charges

Magistrate Vivian Ndlovu rules that Williams and 9 other members charged with Criminal Nuisance must face trial. The Magistrate surprisingly did not address key issues in the application covering right to query placement on remand and the fact that the charges have constitutional implications and are in direct contravention of a landmark Supreme court ruling. see http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1181

This ruling follows an application by the defense for refusal of further remand. She also ordered a Court visit to Bulawayo central police station for an investigation into the complaints leveled against the police by the activists.

The activists have briefed Defense lawyer and Zimbabwe Lawyer for Human Rights chief legal officer, Lizwe Jamela to prepare an application to the Supreme Court questioning the basis for these charges which are in violation of the Supreme Court ruling obtained for a 2008 arrest by WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu.

Meanwhile the High Court has set down for 15 March 2012 an urgent application for stay of trial proceedings in the case kidnap and theft charges faced by Williams and Mahlangu. The Defense team must seek a further postponement of the Trial proceedings which were due to recommence on 12 March 2012. Application for refusal of remand— Jenni and others (High Court called and further postponed the hearing to 19 March 2012 as they have civic matters to deal with!)