Category Archives: Police Role

Police fail PEACE test

ONE thousand five hundred Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members participated in peacefully marching to hand over a list of demands to local and national government on Thursday 19th in Harare and in Bulawayo on Friday 20th September. These peaceful protests were met with the arrest and brief detention of nine members, and over 30 members are nursing wounds inflicted with police baton sticks. Ten of these members had to be taken for medical attention and 3 underwent X-rays to verify level of injury. WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were arrested on both days in both protests.

The consultation to determine key demands took place as the new cabinet and council began to take oath and begin to work. After compilation of these views, WOZA leaders then planned the launch protests to coincide with the United Nations declared International Day of Peace commemorated on 21st September. Over ten thousand members provided their demands for WOZA to submit and follow up in terms of lobby and advocacy engagement.

WOZA has commemorated International Day of Peace in preceding years, however this year, WOZA members wanted to bring a deeper understanding of the kind of peace required as it has been a word too cheaply used in the last year. WOZA decided on peaceful protest as the means to launch their demands so as to test the new government and police commitment to new constitutional clauses. A test failed by 100 percent.

The 600 members marching in two formations, found it hard to start their procession as police officers quickly beat them. The few who managed to regroup and marched to the Parliament of Zimbabwe found that police officers still blocked access to parliament and did not respect member’s right to petition. When the activists tried to disperse, orders barked in the Shona language to ‘bata munhu’ (grab that person) resulted in violent use of force to arrest three WOZA leaders curtailing their right to assembly outlined in the new constitution. As Magodonga Mahlangu tried to climb over the closed tail gate of the police Landrover. She asked for it to be opened so she could better enter the gate and the response from the senior ranking officer was to bark the order for them to ‘kanda munhu’ (beat the person). Police officers then beat her on her head and back further defeating her attempt to climb in. When she objected four police officers roughly picked her up handling her all over her body and threw her into the vehicle.

For the next 3 hours, the drama shifted to the Harare Central police station. The trio were repeatedly asked why they had been arrested and different police departments refused to ‘process’ the trio for formal charges or detention. Most of the blame was heaped on the police reaction group who had arrested the trio without considering if any offense had indeed been committed. After a tour of several offices and hours of waiting, a law and order police officer politely asked the activists and their two lawyers to accompany him. Arriving at the front entrance of the station, he merely pointing outside and said please go.

In Bulawayo the 10 am protest at the offices of The Chronicle newspaper in 9th Avenue was the venue for over 1000 WOZA members. Marching in 10 different formations all converged at the public media outlet and sang songs and chanted slogans in line with the objective of describing the kind of peace needed in Zimbabwe. As the protest program was coming to an end, the police reaction group swooped trying to beat members causing chaos. WOZA leaders managed to pull the members back to the Chronicle entrance trying to calm members down so as to disperse the protest peacefully. As the protest was dispersing some police officers demanded the members sit back down. Senior officers then attended and contradicted this order causing more chaos and delaying the protest dispersal. As Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu tried to explain to the senior officers that their junior officers had blocked the dispersing process by threatening to beat anyone who did not sit down, an order was given for Jenni Williams’s arrest. Magodonga Mahlangu and 4 other members then got into the police vehicle and hundreds of members followed to the police station.

As had happened in Harare, the activists arrival at the police station brought a contradiction. The officer commanding Bulawayo Central Chief Inspector Musvuti said he had merely wanted to discuss with Williams the need for WOZA to apply for permission to conduct a protest. Although the Chief Inspector now seemed to be genuine about engagement, Williams refused to allow the meeting to continue citing the forceful manner she had been brought to the station and the scenes of police violence visible from the Chief inspectors office balcony. The hundreds of members, who had followed the arrested leaders, had thronged the vicinity of the police station and were being beaten with over 50 police officers indiscriminately wielding their baton sticks. One member collector Mutete was violent beaten on the head and pushed in front of an oncoming vehicle by and officer who shouted in the Shona language ‘uraya munhu’ (kill that person). In a clear case of gender discrimination, police commanders had stationed two groups of police officers at the road corners and their task to ban the free movement of any woman to the police station entrance.

The majority of bystanders applauded both protests. In Bulawayo a man was overheard commenting. “Amapholisa kawekele omama laba abakwenzayo kuhle kakhulu. Akakho olesibindi sokutshela uHulumende ngesikufunayo, yekela basikhulumele (The police force should leave these women because what they are doing is good. No one is brave enough to tell the Government about our demands, let them do it for us)

WOZA recognize that it is positive that the police have not charged or detained in police cells members arrested during the last five protests. It is unfortunate that despite this positive development, the police reaction group continue to beat and arrest members casually bringing them to the police station and presenting them for detention. WOZA call for the urgent retraining of members of the police reaction group in respecting human and constitutional rights when dealing with crowd control situations. WOZA call on police command to audit the methods under which orders flow through command channels and on too many occasions orders and contradictions as officers seek to throw their superior power and egos around.

WOZA declare their peace day campaign a victory. Many police officers took time to read the Woza Moya (Come Holy Spirit) newsletter reflecting the demands and the placard messages. The Police officers will have discovered a very relevant demand for ‘A public plan of action as to how the police force will be transformed into a police service and the setting up of the independent police complaints mechanism as stated in the constitution.’

Peace must deliver freedom and development

WOZA delivered this petition to parliament on 19 September 2013 – the response was beatings with baton sticks and a 3 hour detention of 3 WOZA leaders, Williams, Mahlangu and Nyamanindi before police politely ‘showed the 3 the way out’!

The 21st September is celebrated the world over as a day of Peace. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members will also celebrate this day by presenting their peaceful demands to local and national Government. Our theme: PEACE must deliver FREEDOM and DEVELOPMENT for all!

WOZA members selected this theme as a way to explain to their political leadership that Zimbabweans cannot enjoy ‘peace’ in the absence of or without FREEDOM and DEVELOPMENT. Members have heard so many statements that there is peace in Zimbabwe, that elections were held in peace. It seems that there is too much showing off about PEACE that the word is becoming too cheaply used. The time has come for politicians to respect our right to genuine peace that comes with enjoyment of our freedoms and development. For too long these rights have been sanctioned or abused by politics. We want the sanctions to be lifted on our rights and we want an end to rule by politics and demand Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act be given a chance to rule. WOZA consulted members on their immediate demands to the new national and local governments and submit the following lists.

Service delivery DEMANDS to the new local government
1. Firstly we want to thank council for complying with the ministerial directive for 100% debt forgiveness.
2. We await road reconstruction and maintenance to reduce accidents, the President also promised infrastructure development.
3. More clinics and improved health including a better treatment by health care professionals in clinics and hospitals.
4. A more meaningful education system and a boost to the education facilities and decent salaries for teachers.
5. A consulted and genuine programme to ensure plentiful supply of affordable clean water.Proper Water and Electricity billing systems and the installation of water meters and prepaid meters in all houses.
6. Swift response to sewage bursts and blockages and repairing of trenches and sewer pipes. Provision of sanitary facilities such as clean public toilets.
7. Ensuring a clean environment through efficient and regular garbage collection service and provision of garbage bins. Council to conduct a serious clean up exercise in public places such as beer halls and bus terminuses.
8. Provision of decent housing for all and proper home ownership schemes in the older township communities.
9. We demand for stakeholder participation and consultative decision making in all budgets and equal employment opportunities without tribalism or political discrimination.
10. Provision of hawkers licenses and affordable license fees to vendors and tuck shop owners.
11. Council must introduce income generating projects such as clubs, gardening, sewing to help women to reduce poverty.
12. Repair dilapidated structures such as, community buildings and stadiums. The provision of recreational and training facilities for the youths to reduce criminal activities such as theft, drug and alcohol abuse. Maintenance of street and tower lights.
13. Lastly we want ZETDC to convene public hearings to explain why they are not implementing the political directive for 100% debt forgiveness.
DEMANDS for the new Government

1. An IMMEDIATE and public plan of action as to how parliament is going to undertake the harmonisation of laws to bring them into line with the new constitution. The Zanu PF manifesto can never replace our Constitution and so such talk must stop.
2. EMPOWEREMENT – Despite the spirit of gender equality in the new constitution, women are being actively sidelined out of national processes. Prove us wrong by publicising and implementing the affirmative action policy plan for women and the vulnerable and less privileged groups in society e.g. the elderly, widows, children, orphans and the disabled.
3. JOBS – publicise the policy plan for the creation of the promised employment. Starting with the resourcing and re-opening of Industries and creation of a climate for investment and cooperation of manufacturing our own goods so the scrap yards can become functioning business once again.
4. ECONOMIC RECOVERY – publicise a consulted economic recovery plan which includes attracting foreign investment. If there is a proper climate for genuine business partnership, investors will not mind a 49% shareholding. But threats of invasions will chase even the poorest investor. Indigenization programmes should be implemented with proper long-term planning and not theorized to make the elite more rich.
5. Provision of funding for the mining and agricultural sector to ensure increased productivity and food security to boost the economy
6. We demand fair and equitable distribution and management of community resources. If we are as rich a country as the President said they why are we so poor? Natural resources must belong to the local communities and they must see and understand where they have made profits and where there are losses. We demanded devolution of power in order to bring development to a community level and we still demand it.
7. Allow civic organizations to operate freely without fear and intimidation.
8. We demand an urgent plan of how free primary education and affordable secondary education promised in the constitution will be delivered by 2014.
9. A plan of action to end corrupt practices by all people, even those in political power positions.
10. Sufficient and attractive salaries for civil servants, doctors and nurses to avoid brain drain but full implementation that civil servants must not belong to any political party. We expect an audit of this soon and very soon.
11. Resourcing water pipeline projects in order to curb water shortages resulting in durable water supply. Research and feasibility studies for the construction of more dams necessary for all towns and cities.
12. A public plan of action as to how the police force will be transformed into a police service and the setting up of the independent police complaints mechanism as stated in the constitution.

Finally the 21 September 2013 marks the launch of the WOZA ‘mother your vote’ campaign. The vote cast on 31 July 2013 must be nurtured and cared for as a new born baby. It must be taught to sit, stand, walk and run. This child called ‘Vote’ cannot be neglected as the child called ‘Zimbabwe’ has been neglected. WOZA thinks of the new political leadership as the co-parents of our child ‘Vote’. WOZA members, the mothers of the nation, intend to keep reminding the political leadership that they have to be responsible and good parents. To do this WOZA members will play a game of TAG with the political leadership. Wikipedia explains the game called TAG as a game played that involves one or more players chasing other players in an attempt to “tag” or touch them or make them it! In the game some players always try to escape being touched or made ‘it’. Watchful WOZA members will be hoping to make the politicians ‘it’. Being made ‘it’ means you are playing your co-parenting role of our child called ‘Vote’. Politicians, including the Executive, Cabinet Ministers, MP’s, Senators, Councillors, please participate in giving ‘Vote’ a good life. This may be a game and we may be using it to make a friendly point but this game of TAG will be a very serious game.

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.

Bertha released on $100 bail

WOMEN of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) member, Bertha Sibanda, appeared in Tredgold Magistrates Court Bulawayo charged with contravening section 132 of the Code that is publicly exposing herself and being a nuisance. She was granted bail of $100 on condition that she resides at her given address and that she must not interfere with witnesses. She appeared before Court 2 presiding magistrate Mr. Mthethwa. She is defended by Kossam Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. She will appear for a further remand hearing on 4th March 2013.

The outline of the state case reads, “Charge C/S 77 (a) of the criminal law codification and reform act Chapter 9:23 “Public Indecency”. The complainant is the state. It reads; “4. On the 14 February 2013 at about 1600hrs, a group of women was brought at Z.R.P Bulawayo Central by Byo police reaction group following an unnotified gathering at Southampton Building. 5. Accused was amongst the other group of women that followed at Byo Central protesting against the police officers who had taken their partners. 6. Whilst gathered at Z.R.P Byo Central courtyard, accused Bertha Sibanda indecently exposed herself by taking off her blouse and skirt and remained wearing a pant in a public place and within view of Police officers and the crowd that was gathered at Z.R.P Byo Central courtyard. 7. Accused was arrested by number 9916561 cst Nkenjana who escorted her into the charge office where a report was opened. 8 accused acted unlawful.”

WOZA wish to make known that disrobing is a form of non violent protest practiced in many cultures and recognised by the foremost scholar of Nonviolence Professor Gene Sharp. Professor Sharp’s authored 198 methods of protest and symbolic public acts. Protest disrobings appears as number 22.

WOZA wish to object to the selective application of the law and waste of court resources in this case. “It is clear that if you are a members of Zanu PF you can strip without consequence in front of the American ambassador but if you happen to be a member of WOZA; you are denied access to food, held in police custody for 4 days then you are arraigned before court that will continue to use scarce resources to persecute you by prosecution. WOZA abbreviated protest checklist (Gene Sharp)

Bertha to spend weekend in custody

Bulawayo members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who were arrested and beaten continued to seek medical attention. Five where remained in custody last night were 4 men and 1 woman. The men were released but Bertha Sibanda was detained and remains in custody at Bulawayo Central Police Station. All of those arrested were denied access to food delivered by WOZA leader Jenni Williams. The officer in charge of Bulawayo foolishly told Williams that the 5 were not hungry.

Bertha Sibanda is charged with contravening section 132 of the Code that is publicly exposing herself and being a nuisance. She was very traumatised by the police refusal to respond to WOZA’s formal complaint about her treatment in a Water protest on 12 November 2012. She joined the Valentines Days protest in order to follow up on the complaint. The events of that day were similar to the Wednesday in Harare and Thursday in Bulawayo situation whereby junior officers indiscriminately arrest WOZA members, then the senior officers refused to allow the arrests. In November instead of recognising the mistake with humility, they bundled her and 10 others into a vehicle and dumped them at a cemetery out of town. Just as she did on Valentine’s Day, Bertha and her colleagues had undergone severe beating, tribal insults by police officer Mukoshi. WOZA have since demanded he be disciplined but this request has been ignored.

Also during the protest, a male member Lucky Ncube was arrested. Although he was never charged with anything, his crime seemed to be having a camera. He was later released at 11pm with the 3 bystanders who had also taken photographs. During the evening in custody, he was taken Law and Order Department room 5. Whilst there he was made to him remove his trousers as a humiliation. He was also made to remove his shoes and beaten with whip under his feet. This type of torture is termed ‘falanga’. Its common use if to inflict pain without evidence of bruising as the soles of the feet hide such injury. The officer suspected to have conducted this torture is Z. Moyo. Lucky was also asked if he knows the party Zanu PF and accused of trying to discredit Zanu PF by publishing photographs. He was threatened that Zanu PF is the party that can spill blood which is the language often used by police officers who have become partisan. He was then released at 11pm and followed by police officers for several city blocks until he managed to obtain transport to go home. It is assumed that the police officers wanted to determine if you would make contact with WOZA leaders including Jenni Williams who had been conducting a vigil outside the police station. At 10:30 pm, police officers had chased the women away.

The Valentine’s Day protest is part of the annual ‘love’ protest, this year’s theme is – One Love.  During the two protests in Harare and Bulawayo one hundred and ninety members were arrested plus 4 bystanders who simply took photos with their cameras. We estimate over 50 members were beaten with the hard rubber baton sticks that Riot Reaction Group police carry. WOZA medical support team have provided pain killers and muscle rub to most of these members but 13 had to attend for professional medical attention.  Two additional members had to be taken to the hospital today – one due to a blow to the head and another had 3 stitches to her inner lip and lost 3 teeth due to police beatings.

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

Pressure on Parliament from WOZA 16 Days protest

FIVE hundred members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in two separate processions to Parliament at noon on 27th November 2012. This protest is the launch of the WOZA 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!

The protest groups merged 5 meters from Parliament entrance and closed the distance between them and a squad of Riot police manning the entrance door into Parliament. As the activists arrived, Police immediately tried to send them away from the door but the determined human rights defenders began their protest program. The program included the singing of a Shona language song and kneeling in prayer.

WOZA National coordinator Jenni Williams then went to the entrance to deliver the Woza Moya Newsletter containing the 16 Days demands. Two ‘shivering with fear’ parliamentary officers managed to take the document before being shoved out of the way by glaring intelligence officers. The intelligence officers attempted to ensure Williams only spoke with them. As this engagement happened Williams was roughly pulled by the arm from the back by a suited man who seemed to be a parliamentarian intent on violence, he pulled Williams out the way to get into the chamber.

Seven members then made short speeches outlining the demands.  A male member chanting a WOZA slogan ‘you strike a woman and you strike a rock’ to the amusement of male bystanders, spoke of the need to remove the Zanu PF militia who are now manning boreholes and politicizing the distribution of water.

The protest programme was then closed with more slogans. Journalists who were in attendance then began to ask questions of Williams and other participants and a mini press conference ensured. Impatient Riot Police took exception to this and became loud in their attempts to disperse Williams and the journalists.
Many members of parliament were seen looking through the windows and smiling their encouragement. WOZA pray that they took time to read the list of demands contained in the Woza Moya newsletter.

No members were beaten or arrested during the protest and apart from over zealousness on the part of some junior officers who threatened to beat members at the back of the protest, police behaved with restraint.

WOZA members demand a strong Declaration of Rights a.    Equality – right to equality on basis of gender – women to have equal access to jobs and employment, equal pay, to acquire land and inherit property. b.    Right to education – free but quality primary and affordable secondary education and access to vocational education. As a way to correct the injustice of the past 10 years of prioritising defence over education we demand this right be fully justiciable. c.    Right to protest and assemble freely (section 4:16) and the police to respect this right and to protest without clearance. d.    The Right to personal liberty and right to be informed of the reason for arrest.  We want the right to free and safe streets and personal security. e.    Affordable and quality health care. f.    Clean water, sanitation, clean environment. g.    There should be a better provision for children’s rights and expansion in the bill of rights including social economic political and cultural rights. For example the right to earn a living (protection of informal sector). h.    Labour rights – the right to strike, safety, non-discrimination in employment on ethnic basis

WOZA members general DEMANDS
1.    A Ministry of Women’s Affairs to promote affirmative action
2.    There must be separation of powers and members feel that devolution will help promote total people participation in how they want to be governed.
3.    Members said the executive must not interfere with the judiciary and must let the judiciary be independent and for justice to prevail in the country.
4.    Members said they want the rule of law to be protected and promoted in the new constitution.
5.    Members want to see a change in the police force behaviour and in the way they do their job. They believe that the presidential appointment method is the root cause for politicisation of the security sector.
6.    Members want equal representation of women in all elected institutions and commissions.
7.    Strong Human Rights Commission that will fully recognise and protect all human rights ensuring that all cases of human rights are dealt with.
8.    National Peace commission for transitional justice which will provide for restitution from perpetrators for Gukurahundi crimes and those victims will be compensated.
9.    Culture Commission to promote traditional culture that respects human rights
10.    Development Commission to identify disadvantaged and provide affirmative action
11.    Independent Land Commission for distribution of land ensuring that women benefit the most as they are serious farmers.
12.    A strong Provincial and Local Government. Members want a devolved system of government and that can effectively administer devolution for development within its region and ensure natural resources develop their immediate community. Members said they want devolution of powers ‘high and low’ but are prepared to accept a start toward this system and develop it by amendments to the constitution. They do not accept Zanu PF’s version – decentralisation as it has already been in place and has not resulted in shared and devolved decision making.

a.    Members said they want policy change. They want to elect their provincial governors as a principle of democracy.   b.    Members want a Local authority that has the power to control natural resources and make all development decisions.  c.    Fair distribution of revenues between centre and provinces.

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

Drama in Bulawayo as WOZA delivers complaint to police, Christine arrested, released

letter of complaint to ZRP about 12 september12 violation of WOZA members rights

Update – Christine Ndlovu was released after Law and Order Officer George Ngwenya made her pay a $5 fine for trespass and went to her home to verify her Identity Card. Her lawyer Kossam Ncube drove the police officers to Christines home. WOZA Leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu followed to make sure nothing untoward would occur. Concerns that Ngwenya wanted to search her home or get to know where she lives for intimidation purposes remain!

Statement – At 11am on 18 September 2012 sixty two members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to the Bulawayo offices of the Joint Operating and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) in Bulawayo. Riot Police were deployed in other parts of the city and it was strategic for the members to select to march to JOMIC. The procession was to deliver letters of complaint about the treatment by police of members on 12 September 2012. Members were stopped from enjoying their right to peaceful protest by Riot Police who chased them with baton sticks. The complaint also dealt with the arbitrary arrest of WOZA leaders, detaining them under false pretences at Bulawayo Central Police Station. In the complaint WOZA threaten to effect a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on Riot Police officers who violate their own legal requirements on dealing with peaceful protests. Ten minutes before the march, Williams and Mahlangu had attempted to deliver a letter of complaint to Police General Headquarters in Southampton House. Unfortunately the District Clerk refused to sign acceptance of the letter of complaint. JOMIC received the complaint and directed WOZA leaders to try to get the Press and Public Relations office at Ross Camp Headquarters to receive the complaint and sign acknowledgement. By this time the members had gathered at JOMIC and a protest was in progress. Addressing the protest Williams reported developments and members decided to march silently to Ross Camp to get the complaint delivered.

Arrival at Ross camp was met with deployment of more Riot Police who refused to allow all 62 women to enter. Williams and Mahlangu were permitted entry but were unsuccessful in getting the Press department to accept the complaint. Assistant Inspector Bhekinkosi Ndlovu refused and referred the activists back to Southampton House. As they exited the camp, a member Christine Ndlovu was arrested by the police officer manning the gate on allegations that she had trespassed. Her arrest was facilitated by notorious Law and Order Detective Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya, responsible for the torture and harassment of members. He is also the officer behind the bringing of malicious Kidnap and Theft charges on Williams and Mahlangu.

The WOZA leaders then briefed the members that the PR department had refused to sign and had referred WOZA back to Southampton House. As they were doing this a car pulled up with two police internal security intelligence officers Kamba and Dhambi from Southampton who had attended the activists earlier that morning. They then asked Williams and Mahlangu to hand over the complaint so they could formally receive it. They offered to drive the activist back to the officer for a more formal acceptance process but citing potential for abduction, the two insisted that they would walk back to Southampton House, 6 blocks away. As they tried to leave, another contingent of plain clothed police possible from another wing of state machinery, the central intelligence organisation, accosted the two and tried to take away the letter of complaint. Snatching it back, Williams and Mahlangu then made to get on their way to Southampton House.

Further delays resulted as more Riot Police were deployed bring the number of Riot Police to 30. These officers began to make harsh threats to ‘beat and kill’ WOZA members. The two activists were then separated from the 60 members had to make their way under surveillance of 8 plain clothed police officer and a truck full of 12 Riot Police until they reached police headquarters in Southampton House. The two officers Kamba and Dhambi then calmly signed the letter of complaint acknowledgement allowing the activists to finally end a tedious 2 hours.

Christine Ndlovu remains in custody but is now at Mzilikazi Police station awaiting the deployment of Law and Order Police officers who it seems now have ‘ criminal trespass’ as part of their brief. Please call 00 263 9 74439 or 00 263 9 488114 to ask police officers why they are keeping Christine in custody. WOZA fear for her safety due to the presence of perpetrators of torture like Law and Order Officer, G. L. Ngwenya on her matter.
See also the follow press statement from WOZA  and the UN and African Comissisioners for Human Rights on