An account of my experience by ‘GH’

It was on the 23rd April 2007 when we gathered at Kuwadzana 2 ZESA offices to forward our grievances on continued power cuts. As residents of DZ and Kuwadzana together with our WOZA/MOZA Organisation we went there at around 10:45 with our banners up. We sat down while waiting to be addressed by the authorities at ZESA. Unexpectedly we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 policemen, 3 of them were holding guns. They ordered us to remain where we were standing. One of the policemen had fired a shot on the air, which sent people on pandemonium. They then ordered us to march towards Kuwadzana Police camp where they told us to sit on the ground for almost 2 hours. They refused to let us sit in the shade so we spent those hours parched and scotched by sun without anything to protect us from the sun.

At around 1pm they transported us to Harare Central Police station and we were taken to Law and Order. What I saw and experienced there was unbelievable, disgraceful and inhuman. A man called Chari is said to be the boss of Law and Order. When he arrived in the room where we were packed he started to shout, “What is WOZA, Who is the leader of WOZA” He ordered everyone to sleep on his/her stomach and he started to beat us on our buttocks indiscriminately and without mercy.

One of the detectives kicked me on my left eye. I was thrust on the wall with the back of my head. I became dizzy but the detectives were unmoved by all these cruelty which were inflicted on us. Some of the detectives were seeming to enjoy the scene. The man who was beating us was shouting some abusive words toward the elderly women who were with us. He then ordered everyone to sleep on his/her stomach and the besting started once again. It was a horrible and painful experience, which we went through. The beatings and torturing went on for almost 4 hours because it started at around 3 pm to 7pm.

After that they brought us to the room were they wrote everyones details. The process lasted until around 2 am in the morning. So we spent 2 days without having a proper sleep or rest. On the morrow that was Tuesday they brought us out of the detention cells where we had slept with no blankets and on a bare floor. There was a staunch smell of sewerage in the cells. They brought us again to the Law and Order office, Detective Chari came again and said everyone on his or her stomach and he started to beat us indiscriminately and thoroughly. After the beating they charged us under Public Order Security Act (POSA) – Disorderly conduct in a public place. After paying the fine, one Detective asked me a silly question which I did not answer according to what he was expecting. He ordered me to put my head on the floor while my legs were standing on the floor. He told me to put my hands on my buttocks. It went for almost 15 to 20 minutes. It was very painful. We spent 9 hours in Law and Order section where they intimidated us and they sternly warned us not tell us about our ordeal. They finally released us at 2pm Tuesday.

An account of my experience in police custody by EF

On the 23rd April we were arrested in Kuwadzana ZESA for demonstrating against load shedding. We were taken to Harare Central and we were beaten from 16 00hrs to almost 20 00hrs. We were locked in the cells for a few hours. By 800hrs we were again to the Law and Order for beatings again, we were forced to pay fine or else we were to receive more beatings. They wanted to know who was giving us food, when they knew it was WOZA/ MOZA. We were beaten again until we agreed to pay fines since we had been given death threats. The chief culprit was Chari. We were released by 1700hrs the next day.

State case closes as 3rd witness says police fabricated

WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared for the third day in Magistrates Tredgold Regional Court A on trial facing Kidnapping and Theft charges.

The 3rd and final state witness, Thabi Ndlovu, was cross examined and as with all the other witnesses, disputed the content of her statement penned by police investigating Officer George Levison Ngwenya. In her evidence she was unwilling to confirm seeing any searching, contradicting the other witness, her landlord Bokani Nleya who had said Williams and another had conducted an illegal search.

After the cross examination, the state closed its case. Defence lawyer Kossam Ncube then requested a postponement to 3 January 2012 and put the court on notice of his intention apply for discharge of the accused Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. State prosecutor Mr Goodwill Katenaire confirmed that he would respond verbally to the application on 3 January 2012. Once the application is made and argued, the Magistrate, Mr. Goodluck Sangweni will have to make a ruling.

Trial of Williams and Mahlangu continues

WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared in Magistrates Tredgold Regional Court A on trial facing Kidnapping and Theft charges on 19 and 20 December. The matter was before Magistrate Goodluck Sangweni with Prosecutor is Mr Goodwill Katenaire and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Kossam Ncube defending the two accused. The Trial continues on 21 December at 9am.

The Trial had been postponed from 12 December 2011 as the key witness Emma Mabhena did not come to court. Once again on 19 December she was not in court so the trial began with 2nd witness Bokani Nleya.

After the state case was presented, the defence attorney cross examined the witness Bokani Nleya. She made three different statements than those recorded by the police. When challenged that she was contradicting her own signed statement. In her evidence she has said Nolwandle Simunyu had searched with Jennifer Williams but in her statement it alleged that Magodonga Mahlangu had accompanied Williams. When pressed, she said that the Police officer recording the statement had altered the name in her statement. She also said that the police officer had not asked her the value of the torch but just inserted 300 South African Rand. She said the torch was bought for 40 Rand and she was to sell it for USD 10.

Day two began with 75year old Emma Mabhena taking the witness stand. She is the main state witness and is said to have been kidnapped by Williams and Mahlangu. Upon cross examination she stated emphatically that she was never physically forced into the vehicle and that none of the accused persons ever threatened her or kept her against her will in the vehicle. Her signed statement reads   – “the other lady who was in this vehicle opened the rear passenger door and pulled me inside the vehicle while this slim lady pushed me from outside.” She continued “The lady with light complexion warned me that if I wanted peace I should keep quiet and just direct them to where my grandson’s girlfriend was staying”.

Although the statement was signed by Emma Mabena in her verbal evidence in court she refuted this part and other parts of her statement that implied kidnapping or use of force by any of the accused. As with state witness, Bokani Nleya, Emma Mabhena disassociated herself with most of the statement penned in her named by police officers.

The final state witness took the stand and lead evidence but will be cross examined at 9am 21 December 2011.

My experience in police custody by ‘CD’

We were arrested at Kuwadzana ZESA and we were taken across to the police station. We were told to sit in the sun for 3-4 hours. We were then taken to Harare Central Law and Order. There we were beaten every 10 minutes. They wanted us to tell them who initiated the demo and why were flyers written ‘Power to the People by March 2005’ and who filled the protest notes written the amounts of electricity bills last month. They sometimes denied us food and sanitary pads they shared. They ordered us to remove braas, jerseys and shoes then we were detained in dirty cells. We had to use dirty toilets without shoes – there wasn’t any water so we were treated very badly.

In the next morning we were again beaten. The policeman who beat us was called Chari. There were about 12 of them. They beat us , they kicked us and walked on us whilst wearing shoes. They never wanted us to talk to each other. They wanted to know who was bringing the food. They wanted to know who was sponsoring WOZA and what we were promised after the demo. We were only given lunch at 5:30 pm. We paid fines for the fear of being tortured as we were promised that if we do not pay fines they were going to deal with us in the night.

An account of my experience in police custody by AB

On the 23rd April at 10 am I and other members of WOZA and MOZA gathered at Kuwadzana 2 ZESA sub office to submit and complain about unplanned power cuts and extra high electricity bills. The peaceful demonstration then started and we raised our papers and banners written our concern about the treatment from ZESA. This only took between 5-10 minutes before police pounced on us.

Three police constables on bicycles were the first to order us to sit down but we were already seated. Then about five more armed policemen arrived and fired a gunshot in the air ordering everybody to hold each other’s hands and march to the police station. On the way I was beaten on my back because I was moving slowly. On arrival in the police station we were told to sit down on an open space and they started taking down our names first with males then followed by females numbering 20 and 36 respectively then 4 children of between 6 months to 2 years.

At 3pm we then left to Central Police station boarding a police open truck escorted by three officers armed with AK 47 guns. At the station we were taken to Law and Order section. In the room which was too small for our number, there were 4 detectives who started interrogating us and threatening us saying you will rot in jail for six months, you will not make it to the 2008 March and for those who do not have babies this day from here you will not bare children and a lot of abusive language.

One detective Chari entered the room holding a baton stick beating everyone on our back including old women who were with us. He started asking questions like, who is the leader of the group? Who was holding the banner? The surprising response to them, there was no one who answered. Thanks to our unity. He continued again beating everybody. Our lady Ndlovu was made to stand up to answer these questions again but she said nothing, she was beaten heavily on her hips and back. On that occasion a junior officer was walking around stepping on our back and buttocks with heavy shoes asking – Did you ever read this paper? When it was my turn he pressed me on my genital organs forcing me to tell him but I told him I don’t know. It was a terrible and disgusting experience for me that even I am psychologically affected.

After the beatings we were taken in two halves to the cells but we were beaten each by a lady when leaving the room. Thanks to WOZA Organisation, which offered us supper during that terrible night. In the cells we were overpopulated others have to sleep in the passage, which was used as a urinary since there were fewer toilets to service all of us. In the morning we were selected from other people at 9 am our food that day was bananas and bread we consumed that time. The detectives from Law and Order were already waiting for us and forcing us to eat faster than normal. They led us back to their rooms again then one named Djemba Djemba started threatening us saying “now is D-Day for you. Everyone has to say the truth because we are going to pin you, those without children you wouldn’t have one.”

They separated us by dividing with those with money to pay fines of $2500 to go to Room 22 and those who didn’t have left behind. I was among those who have got the fine but we were few about 20. In room 22 we were interviewed by 2 male officers and I lady. Their questions were asking for Address/Political affiliation/Home/ Village/ Friends/ occupation and leaders of WOZA who everybody said we don’t know where they live. During that interview Detective Chari entered went straight to the ladies beating them amongst them a child who was on the back of her mother. He did 2 turns on everyone. He started threatening us saying, “Now we’ve got your names. We will follow up each one of you those who gave us false addresses if we caught you then it will be your last breath and that 2008 you wrote here its unfortunate because all of you are not getting there”. After paying our fines it was surprising to our charge. They charged us with “Disorderly conduct in a public place” without specification what kind of disorder we were doing. The charge is only payable by fine as to what was earlier suggested under Public Order Security Act (POSA).

Another who acts like a senior came and said I have got time I should have dumped you in Beitbridge then I will see how will you come back and support WOZA again. He forced us to tell and say we will have to forget that name WOZA and if you hear it you will run away. But to our unity none of us denounce, blame and accuse our beloved WOZA Organisation rather we get united throughout the ill treatment they gave us. At 2pm we were released but leaving others who were said to be beaten again. From the Central station our leaders were there gave us our lunch and took us to the hospital. There myself I was taken and interviewed. The doctors were hardworking and asked to tell everywhere were I feel pain. I was given tablets of different types and ones, which were to treat my genitals, which were in very strong pain from that officer who kicked.

I wish to thank WOZA/MOZA Organisation who took responsibility of our welfare from food, supper, breakfast and lunch during these two traumatizing days. At the hospital we were treated accordingly and by now I feeling back to normal only my skin itching from bedbugs and lice from the cells, which sucked my blood.