Category Archives: Arrests

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.

MDC T Ward chair attempts to fix WOZA

UPDATE Friday 9August 2013 – Magodonga appeared in Court but the state prosecutor requested remand pending alteration of charges. The Defence lawyer Nontokozo Tachiona then successfully argued for the state to proceed by way of summons. The court 1 Magistrate refused remand and ordered the state to re summons when they had their case in order.

6 August 2013 – MAGODONGA MAHLANGU, a leader of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) was arrested on 6 august 2013 in Bulawayo. She has been charged the Criminal law (codification and reform) Act [chapter 9:23] Act 23/2004 Section 186 entitled ‘Unfinalised Crimes: Threats, Incitement, Conspiracy and Attempt’. The person accusing her of the threat MDC T Ward Chairwoman for Matshobana, Gladys Dube, made the allegation that Magodonga Mahlangu threatened her.

Ms Mahlangu was charged by police and allowed to be out of custody till 7 august where she attended Central police station and was taken to Tredgold Court. On 7 August, 2013, the matter could not be heard as police officers were instructed to locate witnesses and record statements from them and bring the matter back on Friday 9th August 2013.

During the meeting with the area prosecutor, Lawyer Godfrey Nyoni, representing Mahlangu advised the meeting participants that the distribution of a fake flyer attacking Tsvangirai must have bearing on the case. Mr Nyoni showed the area prosecutor and police officers the flyer and recounted events that lead to phone calls between Magodonga Mahlangu and Gladys Dube. These events began on Election Day 31st July 2013. A flyer was distributed around the Bulawayo suburbs of Matshobana and Mpopoma. WOZA Members called their leadership to report this. WOZA national coordinator Jenni Williams then called both MDC lead by Tsvangirai and the MDC to advise them that WOZA had not authored the flyer which was being distributed in an attempt discredit WOZA’s impartial position and cause problems between the MDC T and WOZA. (See the flyer at

It transpires that Gladys Dube and other MDC T members including Ntombizodwa Ncube took exception to the flyer and went to three WOZA member’s houses to threaten them with retribution and beating. This development was then reported to Magodonga who then called both Gladys Dube and Ntombizodwa Ncube pointing out to them that the flyer was not authored by us. However, Gladys Dube continued to threaten a local member Christine Ndlovu who had reported the incident to Mahlangu.

At a meeting on 1st August 2013, Christine Ndlovu reported that Gladys called her a ‘sell out’ for reporting to WOZA leaders that she and Ntombizodwa had threatened her. Taking this threat seriously, and in the presence of WOZA National coordinator, Jenni Williams and 15 other members, Magodonga called Gladys Dube, putting the call on speaker phone. Magodonga asked her to please stop threatening Christine, but Gladys shouted insults incessantly and finally said she was going immediately to Christine Ndlovu house to deal with her. Magodonga then after replied; if you do that and anything happens to Christine we will have to report the matter to the police. Gladys hung up the call.

However from the police reports Gladys Dube claims she was called ‘a sell out’ and that Magodonga told her ‘if Welshman loses, I will come there with CID and police’. In a normal society, responsible officials would clearly note that this story was flipped over or that someone simply misunderstood what was being said. However Zimbabwe is not a normal society so Gladys Dube made a report to the Zimbabwe Republic Police at Western Commonage police station who referred it to the Law and Order Department at Bulawayo Central Police station resulting in the arrest of Magodonga. It is also apparent from the statement of Gladys Dube that on Friday 2nd august she anticipated a MDC T election victory and therefore referred to her party as the ruling party.
WOZA members across Bulawayo have been threatened by members of the Movement for Democratic Change (Tsvangirai) with the words, “When we are the ruling part we will fix you WOZA people”. It is not therefore surprising that Gladys Dube, anticipating an MDC T win on Friday 2nd August 2013 went to the police to fix WOZA through Magodonga Mahlangu and referred to her party the MDC T party as the ruling party.

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

Mayor no show as Police block WOZA protest to City Hall

WOMEN of Zimbabwe Arise members numbering 150 made it to the steps of the City Hall Mayors office but senior ranking police officers blocked their access to engage the Mayor and the Mayor did not attend to address the aggrieved members, his voters. This was the third day of protest bemoaning the Bulawayo water woes.

Four of the five protests were disrupted at the start of their march by police officers who grabbed their banners and placards and threatened to beat the members.

The 3 days series of protests followed meetings with council officials in their suburban offices. Since 1st November, over 800 members conducted deputations or sent delegations to council officers to lodge complaints about water problems. Officials at most of these centres referred members to Council officers in Tower block where technical staff work and to the Mayor at City Hall.   As a result the Monday protest was to Council Tower block, Tuesday to the Government complex where the Ministry of Water is housed and then the final protest to City Hall.

WOZA has been communicating with the Council PR Department and received a letter dated 29 October 2012 (BMN/W1/27), from the Town Clerk. This is the last paragraph in full, “Bulawayo City Council is committed to entering into a dialogue with you and your members to discuss more issues regarding the water crisis and water shedding. Council is available to provide further information to clarify issues on water raised by your organization.” Following up on this as a genuine invitation WOZA found their way blocked by Police on all 3 days of the protest campaign.

Those that made it to the steps of City hall on 14 November 2012, were greeted by very senior uniformed and those wearing plain clothes. The officers’ primary objective seemed to be to disperse the protest and attempted to take WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu to the police station which is located across the road to discuss the water problems. When asked if they had a mandate to act officially for city council they failed to give a plausible answer.

Dispersing the protest, Williams advised members gathered that negotiation with police to secure an address by the Mayor had failed and that the invitation issued by the Town clerk a false promise of dialogue. The WOZA leader then advised members to mobilise the ‘recall petition processes for Bulawayo councilors to be recalled by the electorate as they had failed to meet members or deal with the water crisis.

WOZA demands included the following
1.    City council and the Minister of Water must convene public hearings and come up with a consulted plan of action on the water problems.
2.    Members demand an END to water load shedding that extends beyond 24 hours and keep to timetables.
3.    City council must supply water purifying tablets
4.    City council must devise more effective methods of supplying residents with clean water in an orderly manner.
5.    There is already an outbreak of diseases and the health delivery systems cannot cope with the queues and demand for drips and medication. The Health Department must also have a disaster management plan in place for all residents to inspect and be able to input to.
6.    Demand increase to 100 litres per family per day from water bowser allocation, 40 litres is not enough for a family of five.
7.    Stop charging penalties; we are already penalised by the water crisis.
8.    Please help control fairly the access to boreholes and stop unscrupulous opportunists pretending to ‘own’ the borehole.

Demands to the minister
9.    Firstly we have to make these demands through the Mayor due to centralised power and lack of access.
10.    Honourable Mayor, tell the Minister that he must be accountable. He has made many empty promises but not delivered a single promise. He promised the water crisis would be dealt with by the first week of October but a month later we are thirsty. He must explain what he has done with the money he told us he had in his pocket.
11.    We demand that the minister also conduct a consultative process and come up with a comprehensive plan to bring water to Bulawayo. We demand this be done in a non partisan way separated from anyone’s political ambitions.
12.    Honourable Mayor we demand that you tell him and all your councillors that we are tired of being used as political tools. We demand constitutional devolution so that we can determine our own destiny. We are sick and tired of perennial problems and politicisation of our basic rights. Bob Marley sang these words, “you fool some of the people sometime but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’

Although the officers tried their best to be professional and no members were beaten, they still violated rights to freedom of expression and assembly of the participation and barred access to elected city officials. WOZA would like to nonetheless commend the officer commanding Bulawayo Chief Inspector Rangwani for finally realizing that arrests and beating will not deter the WOZA members. We applaud his effort to professionalise police response and encourage him to continue on this path to respect for democracy.

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

79 members and 2 babies arrested for WATER protest


SEVENTY NINE members and two babies are under arrest at Bulawayo Central police station for staging a peaceful protest at the City Council Tower block on the water issue. At noon 12 November 2012. A 16 year old girl was handcuffed so over an hour as they officer concerned could not locate the handcuff keys.   – see the demands here Woza Moya WATER November 2012

Initially 150 members were arrested as police swooped but 70 were refused entry into the police station.

The peaceful protest targeted Tower block where most city council staff work as a way to pressurize them to refuse to implement oppressive disconnections and to adhere to water load shedding timetables.

Upon arrival at the Tower block council security guard immediately threatened to call the Riot Police which created increased tension. A senior council security officer then attended and promised that no Riot Police would be called. He then requested WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu accompany him to see the Director of Water. It was as they climbed the 6 flights that Riot Police swooped arresting the seated members awaiting the Director of Water.

Many of the members attending the protest have not had water for weeks and when it comes it is dirty and undrinkable.

Lawyers have been deployed to attend to those arrested whom include Magodonga Mahlangu.