Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared in Court today on the kidnap and theft charges before a stand in magistrate in Regional Court Tredgold Bulawayo. They were represented by a stand in lawyer who was not aware of the case details. The prosecutor Mr Katenaire initially agreed to a further month long remand but when the matter came before the stand in Magistrate Katenaire took advantage of the new lawyer and did an about turn and remanded the 2 accused to the 15th August. He submitted to the court that on that date the defence had to explain the delay in getting the Review in the High Court completed. As this date proved problematic, the magistrate was asked by the Accused Jennifer Williams to remand them to Monday 30 July.
On Monday, the two accused will have to get a lawyer strong enough to argue that the defence have no control over when the High Court will hear the matter. The accused won a High Court stay of proceeding in the regional court but the Magistrate Sengweni and Prosecutor Mr Katenaire refused to remove the two off court remand appearances. On the 3rd of July a formal written request was made to the High Court applying for the matter to be heard. The prosecutor seems determined to ignore these facts and proceed with the Trial.
The two accused, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu feel that their treatment is part of ongoing harassment and persecution by prosecution. It is also the states covert strategy to keep them sitting in court rooms instead of conducting peaceful protests.
This harassment has seen the recent arrests of 9 members for graffiti including the message ‘fire Chihuri’ (the police commissioner). Arresting police officers expressed their displeasure at the call for the firing of the police commissioner and sent threatening messages to Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. During this period of arrest, they visited the home of a member at 11pm on 2nd July demanding she take them to the home of the two for their arrest to be carried out. On 30 June the guard dogs at the home of Magodonga Mahlangu were poisoned and one died. This is the second incident were cruel police officers have targeted her dogs when they could not get to her. The home of Williams has been visited by police officers on 4th and 24th July who left no messages but harassed neighbours about the whereabouts of Williams. WOZA fears the imminent arrest of the two leaders as retaliation for calling for the firing of the police commissioner. This sort of behaviour is precisely why the activists have called for Chihuri to be fired.
Meanwhile the 9 members arrested and charged for graffiti will face four separate trials starting on Monday 30 July in Western Commonage Court in Bulawayo. Sibongile Lumbile’s 30th of July 2012 in court C; Mpikelelo Moyo, Eunice Moyo and Teresia Phiri – 3 August 2012 court B; Ottilia Dube and Miriam Ngcebetsha 6 August 2012 court A; Cathrine Dliwayo, Violet Dube and Vigilant Lunga on 7 August 2012 in Court D.
See the story on http://www.newsday.co.zw/article/2012-07-04-protesters-call-for-chihuris-head/