All posts by Jenni

Six members acquitted – Williams and Mahlangu appear on Trial 12 December 2011

UPDATE 12 December 2011. The Trial failed to begin as the State did not have the docket assigned to a court and key witness Emma Mabhena did not come to court despite being issued with a subpoena. Mabena and the 3rd witness Thabi Ndlovu had a warrent of arrest issued for them. Williams and Mahlangu were remanded to Monday 19 December for Trial under Magistrate Goodluck Sangweni in Regional Court A. The Prosecutor is Mr Goodwill Katenaire. WOZA leaders will be defended by Kossam Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

SIX women were granted a discharge by Bulawayo Magistrate. They were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 and spent 6 days in police cells before being charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage to property. Magistrate Roselyn Dube on 9 December 2011 acquitted the six, they had faced a fine or imprisonment. The court victory was secured by the chief officer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who defended the six members.

Public Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa failed to prove that the six women had painted messages on a Bulawayo road. Some of the messages were: ‘power to the poor people’ and ‘police stop abusing our rights’, ‘Yes to power, Pre-paid meters for all’, and ‘No to violence – Woza’.

The matter had over 10 sittings of the trial since August. It began with the hearing of defence witnesses and a staff member of the City Council, Engineer Douglas Lengama Ncube. Key evidence leading to the discharge was the testimony of the Engineer who told the court that he had signed his statement written by the police without scrutinising it in detail. Another key moment was reached when the Investigating officer Moyo had to take the stand and explain how he arrested the women. He testified that he had not arrested the women but had just been assigned the case without his direct involvement. As a result of this statement, he refused to comment on the case merits.

On 12 December 2011, Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu will face Kidnap and Theft charges in Tredgold Magistrates Court. The two were arrested on 21 September 2011, denied bail and sent to prison before the High Court granted them bail.

The state is set to nominate a special magistrate and prosecutor for the case. A Supreme Court ruling found that Williams and Mahlangu right to freedom of protest was obstructed by a 2008 arrest.  As a result, no conviction for protest related charges can be successfully made against the two. Many police officers have threatened the two to fix them with criminal charges and therefore this case is viewed as an attempt to fix the duo with criminal charges.

Legal Documents

Summary of the case ; Summary of Jurisdiction ; J Williams Warned and Caution Statement ; M Maghlangu Warn Cautioned ; Emmah Mabhena – State witness ; Bokani Nleya- State witness ; Thabi Ndlovu- state witness

Three members hospitalised following beatings in police custody

Three of the 56 members arrested in Harare on Monday have been hospitalised following the beatings they received in custody by Law and Order officers in Harare Central Police Station. Almost all of the 56 required medical treatment. The baby received medical attention but was not hospitalised. It also appears that some injuries were received when one of officers involved walked all over the members as they were lying face down on the floor.

By 7pm on Tuesday, all 56 members arrested on Monday at the Kuwadzana ZESA sit-in had been assualted in police custody and forced to pay admission of guilt fines to ‘buy’ their freedom. Lawyers served police with orders to allow them access to their clients. This order was mostly ignored as the beatings continued. Reports indicate that they were made to lie down on the floor in the Law and Order department of Harare Central Police Station and were beaten by 12 officers. The names that members noted are Chari, Juta, Baya, Phiri and Mufademba. Reports indicate that one woman had a baby on her back whilst she lay down on the floor and the baby sustained beatings and has a swollen leg. As members reported for medical attention today, some could need hospitilisation, including the baby.

WOZA pay tribute to the courage of the human rights defenders who went to ZESA offices to press for their right to power knowing that these offices were next door to police stations. If more Zimbabweans followed this example of courage to fight for rights, Zimbabwe would be free tomorrow.

WOZA say injury to one an injury to all women

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) wish to express concern about the manner in which the Tsvangirai family have dealt with the matter of Ms Lorcadia Karimatsenga Tembo pregnancy. We also express concern that Locardia, a victim of abuse is being used by politicians and the media as an object, further abusing her and reducing her dignity.

We call on the family to recognise and respect her as a woman and as a mother and treat her with decency and cater to all her needs as a pregnant woman.

We call on politicians to stop using this unfortunate circumstance to settle political scores as by doing this they are perpetuating abuse.

We call on the media to respect the integrity of the ‘personal’ spaces of people and not publicise this issue in an undignified manner and to refrain from gender stereotyping and demeaning comments.

It is saddening to note the media and press hype about this issue. Why is it so important when thousands of women and girls face this exact abuse every day? It is for this reason that civic society organise a 16 day campaign against gender based violence so that the issue comes to the fore rather than abuse of ‘important’ or ‘prominent’ people. Thousands of WOZA members have been beaten, brutalised, tortured, arrested, stripped, and called by vulgar language but very little comment is heard from politicians and the media.

The work of WOZA and the resultant suffering, the blood sweat and tears of members to build a reputation as a no nonsense movement of human rights defenders must not be misunderstood. We are not at the beck and call of politicians with an agenda to use our voice. We comment because we are affected by the issue of gender based violence – the global abuse of women and girls, to us an injury to one is an injury to all women.

WOZA ask that due respect is accorded our work. We ask politicians and the media to take stock of the abuses we suffer; remember us every day and not only when there is suddenly a need to try to use us weapon to embarrass politicians and settle political scores.

Two leaders of WOZA, Williams and Mahlangu are being dragged to a trial on fabricated Kidnap and Theft charges on Monday 12 December 2011 at Bulawayo Tredgold Magistrates Court, be there in solidarity at 8am.

7th December 2011 For more information, please call Jenni Williams on SA mobile +27 783715665. Or call Jenni Williams +263 772 898 110 or +263 712 213 885 or Magodonga Mahlangu +263 772 362 668 or email info@wozazimbabwe.org or wozazimbabwe@yahoo.com or wozazimbabwe@googlemail.com. Visit our website at www.wozazimbabwe.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook.

WOZA Founder Receives French National Order of Merit

On Friday 25th November 2011 at 4:00 pm, WOZA founder and national coordinator Jenni Williams was awarded the French National Order of Merit at a ceremony at the residence of the French Ambassador, Francois Ponge in Harare.

The award given by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy on recommendation of the French Embassy, to recognise Williams for relentlessly engagement in advocating for democracy and human rights, especially for women in Zimbabwe.

The ceremony was attended by WOZA members, Civic society leaders and invited guests.

Magodonga Mahlangu also spoke at the ceremony and thanked the French Government for acknowledged WOZA founder Jenni Williams.

Acceptance Speech 25 November 2011 Jenni Williams Founder/National Coordinator Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) On occassion of the Government of France National Order of Merit Award

Salutations – I wish to thank you for the for the recognition given to myself and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).  WOZA has 80 000 members and over 500 leaders and as I stand here I am humbled. I know that my presence here today is not because of status or cleverness, it is because of the blood, sweat and tears of real people fighting to be respected as citizens of Zimbabwe. And so I salute the members of WOZA who decided enough is enough, signed up and became activists.

WOZA was formed to give voice to ordinary women and to demand social justice for all Zimbabweans. We did not set out to seek recognition beyond that of our own government to respect us as citizens and to recognise our concerns as legitimate. We long for the award of real peace and dignity in Zimbabwe.

When I formed WOZA with late Sheba Dube I never imagined we would grow into the movement that WOZA is today and I could not have done it without the support and sacrifice of my family and comrades, Magodonga Mahlangu and many others.

I pay tribute to their courage, their commitment and determination to see a new Zimbabwe in their lifetime. To be a member of WOZA is to be one amongst many fearlessly brave women and men —- I am proud that they count me as their sister and mother.

In WOZA we believe that it is not too late for the political leadership to return to the promises of the liberation war for respect for one person one vote, equality and a right to an education. Enough blood has been spilt in a violent war for these ideals.

WOZA members fight tirelessly but this time  —-non violently so that we can see, feel and enjoy those promises as daily realities.

The National Order of Merit award you have given me today is recognition that WOZA has empowered thousands of community activists, making them champions for change. The Act- Recruit- Train and Organise model we use enables WOZA to be a strong amplifier of people voices. They understand what they want and know how to demand all their socio-economic, political and cultural rights.  This award will also help to lift the profile of these champions and protect them from abuse and torture and may even save their lives – we thank you for this.  But this award should serve as notice to the perpetrators of violence that France is watching and French citizens want to see genuine peace in Zimbabwe.

We believe that the political temperature in too high and that if something is not done more lives will be lost in the name of elections.

We are worried about the dedicated campaign against Matabeleland, the de-industrialisation and whole scale loss of jobs will surely mean starvation and hardship – this campaign has the look of a modern day Gukurahundi.  I pray this time round the international community will not remain silent.  As we write our new constitution we must careful craft devolution of power and control of natural recourses laws so that locals can genuinely benefit from the wealth they live amongst but very often to do get to enjoy.

As I close my acceptance speech, I wish remind you all that the 16 days Campaign begins today. Recently the Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that 124 women were raped in 11 days. In this harsh economic climate, there is no peace in our homes and women are the punching bag. It is said that sexual harassment is experienced by up to 70 % of women and I am one of the 70%. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. This year the theme is From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women. The time has come for a code RED against rape of women and girls.            I thank you

French Ambassador Speech 25 Nov 2011 National Order of Merit J Williams

News update – members assaulted in Harare Central Police Station

At 9pm yesterday the group of 56 and 10 babies were finally given their supper. Many members had blood on their heads and clothing, evidence that they had been assaulted by police. They had been kept in the Law and Order department where obviously they had been assaulted.

Eye witnesses at Kuwadzana also confirm that police arrived at the scene firing shots into the air. One member was also hit with a rifle butt as she was loaded onto the police vehicle.

A message was delivered by Law and Order officers that if anyone other than Jenni Williams tried to deliver food they would be beheaded. However all those who delivered food this morning were not harmed. Williams is on a hit list to be eliminated as a dangerous person.

Lawyers are preparing an urgent application.

Please phone Harare Central Police Station on +263 4 777777 to demand that officers stop assaulting WOZA members and that the mothers with babies are released.

Williams, Mahlangu appear in court

WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared in Court 2 Tredgold Magistrates Court at 9am on 6th October 2011 before Magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa. They were remanded to 12 December 2011. Although Prosecutor Melvin Nzombe was in attendance most prosecutors are on strike therefore the long remand date.

Ten members arrested alongside Williams and Mahlangu during the 21 September 2011 Peace Day protest have filed a complaint against police officers who made up the Riot Reaction squad on the day in question. The ten, represented by 2 have complained to the Zimbabwe Republic Police that officers who were beating them and arrested them used foul language on them and others who were not arrested. The Officer commanding Crime Prevention Unit, Sergeant J. Dzikiti in the company of other police officers called the women ‘Beche’ the Shona language word for Vagina and also ‘Beche ramai vako’ (your mothers vagina) as they beat the human rights defenders with baton sticks. Sergeant Dzikiti is also the one who gave orders for the beating shouting ‘uraya’, meaning ‘kill’ in Shona.

An investigating officer has been assigned to the case on Wednesday but in current police trend they asked the victims to go get the perpetrator and present him. Today, in the company of Williams and Mahlangu the women attend Bulawayo Central Police Station to locate the officer. Sgt Dzikiti was identified and directly confronted ad asked to go with the women to the investigating officer but he refused. The activists obtained his name and force number which was submitted to the investigating officer. The case number is IR 7900/11.

After the 10 June raid by police officers of the WOZA office, a formal complaint was made to the legal department of the police on 1st July 2011. But apart from police attending the house to remove their planted documents and bullets no further update has been received. A Nokia X3 mobile phone with MTN Sim card and USD$400 stolen from the house by police officers guarding it remains ignored.

Another report made on Tuesday 27 October 2011, of burglary and theft from another WOZA property remains ignored and un-investigated. Bulawayo Central Police station officers receiving the report have even refused to provide an initial report number or assign a crime reference book number.

WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu met with Global Political Agreement Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JoMic) staff on 12th September 2011 in their offices.   The meeting was attended by the 3 political party representatives, Frank Chamunorwa (MDC), Oppah Muchinguri (Zanu PF) and Thabita Kumalo (MDC T) and their staff liaison officers. During this meeting, WOZA was asked to report all human rights abuses to the police and relay these complaints to JoMIC with police reference numbers. But it is proving difficult for WOZA members to get cooperation from Bulawayo Central Police station.

It is unfortunate that in Zimbabwe there is no independent complaint process so the junior investigating officer will be expected to discipline his superior officer so it is unclear how effective this process can be but it is a record for future Transitional Justice processes.

Free at Last!

WOZA leaders were released from custody on orders from High Court Judge Maphios Cheda on 4thOctober 2011.

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu wish to thank mem, friends and supporters for the encouragement and prayers that helped them to survive their 13 days in custody, 2 in Bulawayo Central and 11 in the Mlondolozi prision, part of the Khami prison complex.

They will appear in Bulawayo Tredgold Magistrates Court at 8am tomorrow, 6th October 2011 and expect to be remanded to a further date. see

http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=994 and   http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=976 and  http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=983

56 WOZA members and 10 babies arrested in Harare today

Approximately 56 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) – 36 women, 20 men and 10 babies – have been arrested today in Kuwadzana, Harare. They were arrested at the local Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) office in Kuwadzana as WOZA members continued their ‘power to the people’ protest campaign. The peaceful human rights defenders delivered protests notes with their demands to the ZESA officers. They are currently being held at Harare Central Police Station, where they were moved under armed guard.

This morning, at 11am, WOZA members assembled at three different ZESA offices – Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Zengeza – holding simultaneous ‘tough love’ protests. Over 470 members from 10 different areas of Harare took part in the community-level protests.

The protests at Warren Park and Zengeza took place without incident and the participants were able to disperse before police arrived. In Zengeza, about 100 members gathered inside the ZESA office while about 300 members gathered outside. They sat in for over 30 minutes awaiting a response from officials but they were not addressed. The protest notes were accepted however.

At Kuwadzana, approximately 66 members were arrested and marched to the police station, which is next door. Once at the police station, police were seen beating two members. The extent of their injuries are as yet unknown.

Lawyers have been deployed but have failed to get access. Members trying to take in food were also turned away so the group of 56 and 10 babies will go hungry tonight.

The protests signify the launch of the ‘power to the people’ by March 2008 campaign.

The contact number for Harare Central is +263 4 777777. Please call and ask why innocent men, women and babies are being arrested for addressing legitimate consumer complaints to their service provider, ZESA.

WOZA members outwit police officers

After the amazing release of over 300 activists from outside Parliament on 12th December 2006, Women Of Zimbabwe Arise and Men Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/ MOZA) members were left wondering if the non-violent war of attrition waged against the Zimbabwe Republic Police had at last born fruit and that members would no longer face weekly police harassment. Unfortunately this ‘truce’ was short-lived as Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu had to ‘quickstep’ to escape arrest on Saturday 16 December 2006, after being followed through Bulawayo for seven blocks with officers in hot pursuit.

WOZA had convened a meeting at a church in Bulawayo to reflect on the Harare launch of the Peoples’ Charter at Parliament. Halfway through the meeting, plain-clothed officers from the Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) branch entered the meeting hall. Their presence disrupted the meeting, which had to be dispersed. One PISI officer, Abraham Dapi, known to many members as he had testified in the Operation Sunrise Demonstration trial, tried to disguise himself by reading a copy of ‘The Zimbabwean’ but he did not fool anyone. He eventually went to rejoin his fellow officers outside.

As hundreds of WOZA and MOZA members left the venue, the three officers stood around outside the hall, obviously unsure how to proceed as they were outnumbered and, as usual, members were giving them the Love sign!

Last to leave the venue were Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. Upon seeing them leaving, the police officers proceeded to follow the two, who were walking towards the city centre. WOZA security details managed to monitor the police officers’ movements and advise the duo about which roads were clear until they were able to out-walk the officers.

Meanwhile WOZA security monitoring the venue reported that another official from the Law and Order department, driving a navy-blue Defender, was seen monitoring the area and kept driving around the venue. The female officer, who wears spectacles, was present when members were assaulted on 29th November 2006 at Mhlahlandlela. She was observed by members pointing out to riot police who to assault and arrest.

Officer Abraham Dapi is well known to WOZA, as he was a state witness in the 21st August trial (regarding the demonstration against Operation Sunrise). After WOZA won that case, he was overheard saying that the only option left was to beat WOZA members, as the State could not win in court. His words came true and members are still nursing injuries from the brutal assault. In addition, when Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were under arrest the night of the beatings, he came to the detention room where they were and in front of them, said that police had not beaten the women enough and that they should have been beaten more severely.

WOZA/MOZA will continue to defy unjust laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, which violate basic human rights such as the freedom of assembly. In addition, lawyers have been briefed to proceed with a suit against the police officers responsible for the assaults and an investigation is under way to identify all the officers involved to cite them as respondents.