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Members appear in Court and remanded to 21Feb

TEN members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) appeared in Magistrates Court one at 9:30am before Magistrate Vivian Ndlovu. Those appearing include national coordinator Jenni Williams.

The Defence were represented by Mr Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Nikiwe Ncube.

The matter was in court for Trial but no state papers had been served on the defence team so they could prepare for Trial. Mr Jamela summarised the activist complaints against the police and put the state on notice that at the next appearance on 21 February 2012, they will submit a written application for refusal of further remand. Jeremiah Mutsindikwa appeared for the state.

The charges come under the Criminal law (codification and reform) Act [chapter 9:23] Act 23/2004 Section 46 Criminal nuisance’ Acts constituting criminal nuisance – 2. Any person who – (v) employs any means whatsoever which are likely materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public or any section of the public, or does any act which is likely to create a nuisance or obstruction; shall be guilty of criminal nuisance.

These charges seem to contradict the Supreme Court Ruling obtained in 2012 by Williams and Mahlangu. The essence of the ruling is covered in the main points available at this link on the WOZA website. http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1181

Court appearance by members known as the ‘Shosholoza for Love 10’

Members of WOZA arrested on 7 February 2012 appeared for the 15th time in Trial Court One, Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo. The appearance was for delivery of a ruling regarding an application to take the matter to the Supreme Court submitted on 22nd March 2012 after the Magistrate Vivian Dube refused to discharge the matter. Magistrate Vivian Dube was once again absent and stand-in Magistrate Tansy Dube did not issue the ruling but remanded the activists to 20 June 2012.

Defence Lawyer Lizwe Jamela of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights will submit a complaint as the accused have appeared 5times expecting a ruling only for the matter to be remanded. The application is being ignored thereby denying the accused access to the Supreme Court. To make matters worse the Supreme Court has already ruled on similar charges which were protest related. This application was taken by Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest arrest and the ruling held that there had been a deprivation of Williams and Mahlangu right to liberty. Also in that application Magistrate Msipha had denied the right to access the Supreme Court. Magistrate Vivian Dube by her continually delaying the response to the ruling is also effectively denying the activists the right to approach the Supreme Court.

The application lodged in March 2012 seeks to ask the Supreme Court to once again determine the activists’ constitutional right to freedoms of association, assembly and expression, right to liberty and protection of law. It also makes an argument that the application is not frivolous and vexatious despite it having to be taken a second time.

The application draws on international cases such as the Suffragettes movement in the United Kingdom and the United States Civil Rights movements. Activists taking legal challenges for arrests during those periods also made the arguments that public spaces such as roads and parks are spaces for the public expression. The Supreme Court will be asked to assist in reconciling the right to expression and assembly with the argument over the need to protect public order. The application also addresses the role of police in a protest situation citing their power of discretion to disperse the protest rather than arbitrarily arrest the activists. If the application is successfully the activists will be removed off remand for the matter to be determined in the Supreme Court.

Williams and Mahlangu are also facing separate charges for Kidnap and Theft and will reappear in this court for a remand hearing on 30 June 2012. A review for a review of Magistrate Sengweni refusal to discharge the activists is before the High Court. State witnesses provided contradictory testimony and disowned their police prepared statements. The review application also seeks arbitration of court records which indicates the reverse of witness testimony in court under oath. The matter cannot be set for hearing in the High Court as there are backlogs in the magistrates’ court typing pool.

Meanwhile Jennifer Williams and 3 others arrested in April 2010 and kept in horrific conditions in Harare Central Police station for 7 days have taken an application to the Supreme Court regarding the conditions in these police cells. The matter has been set down for hearing on 14 June 2012.

Note: Shosholoza for love was the theme under which WOZA members marched on 7 February 2012. Shosholoza is a word which means ‘push with pressure’ a term used to describe WOZA’s marching mandate.

WOZA application to magistrates court to go to Supreme Court 23march2012

 

Constitutional Draft content victory ‘sweets’ cannot be stolen from our mouths

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members express concern the once again the word ‘election’ dominates the political rhetoric and that the Copac draft has once again become hostage to political posturing and egos. WOZA call for the immediate resumption of Constitutional reform processes leading to the second all stakeholders’ conference and the setting of a date for the referendum.

WOZA members provided their leadership with a mandate to begin a vote ‘yes’ campaign if their main requirements were included in the draft. Members also provided a mandate to conduct a boycott campaign for any elections conducted without significant reforms in place.

In June 2012 WOZA members were consultation on political and constitutional developments. Members estimated that they had lost confidence and trust in the MDC. Some members measured their level of trust at 45%. A result confirmed by recent Freedom House and MPOI surveys. Both MDC parties in the government, political analysts and academics must realise that there were no ‘undecided’ people, no people ‘fearful’ of disclosing their support in this sample. The people in the WOZA consultation were ordinary women – brave and blunt and giving the opposition a 45% trust rating.

As the MDCT launch their ‘YES’ campaign, they must be warned that WOZA is watching and listening. WOZA challenge the MDCT and MDC to push for additional reforms on the age limit for presidential candidates and further reduction of presidential powers. Additionally WOZA suggest the removal of the word ‘unitary’ in the preamble which describing the state and insertion of the word ‘devolved’.  Zimbabweans were clear that they no longer want a highly centralised unitary state.

Members also warned about the tendency of President Robert Mugabe to back track on agreements and this too has come to pass with ZANU PF refusing to respect their own signatures on the Copac draft and have practically rewritten their own draft. Once again ZANU PF pretends national interest whilst telling blatant lies.

WOZA members see their views in the draft and will not allow ZANU PF to misrepresent our views. WOZA have campaigned tirelessly for reforms and the victory ‘sweets’ cannot be stolen from our mouths.

The ‘victory sweets’ are represented by this content in the Copac draft.
a)    Free education and adult basic education.
b)    Gender equality specified in many sections and the removal of restrictions by traditional culture.
c)    President, cabinet, ministry permanent secretaries and all commissioners limited to two five year terms limit.
d)    A devolved system of government with some forms of elected officials and specified resource control.
e)    A more transparent sharing of power with the presidential running mates system.
f)    We have proportional representation which does bring a more democratically implemented.
g)    We got more democratic electoral systems and a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with extended powers.
h)    Total abolishment of the Death penalty for women.
i)    Most political leaders in legislature, civic servants, security sector must no longer involve themselves in politics or be impartial.
j)    A National Peace Commission that will deal with transitional justice issues.
k)    A National Prosecuting Authority and reduced power for the Attorney General.
l)    An independent complaints commission so we can hold security sector accountable.
m)    An expanded bill of rights, including social, economic, political and cultural rights.
n)    The right to demonstrate and petition and rights to liberty more clearly defined.
o)    A non-discrimination clause and 16 official languages.
p)    Domestication of international instruments to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
q)    A  Constitutional and Electoral Court.

WOZA demand the immediate finalisation of second all stakeholders’ conference dates.  A transparent and accountable system to call for the second all stakeholders conference participation of all sectors of society and provision for inclusion of stakeholder input.

Members are also unhappy with the manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic Police continue to disrupt organisation activities and letters of complaint delivered to the police and to the Joint Operating and Monitoring Committee (Jomic) remain ignored. (See letter of complaint which is attached) WOZA complain of police harrasment ZRP Jomic

We demand that cabinet summon the Police Commissioner and instruct him to allow full and unfettered peaceful meetings and protests as an advance of section 4:24. This section is necessary part of the referendum preparation phase civic awareness work. If he is not prepared to allow citizens this space then we call for his immediate dismissal.

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.

WOZA leaders apply for Trial discharge

WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared before Magistrate, Mr. Goodluck Sangweni at Tredgold Regional Court facing Kidnapping and Theft charges. The Trial resumes on 16 January 2012.

The Defence Lawyer Kossam Ncube made an application for the two to be discharged on both counts at the close of the state case. He argues that the state had failed to establish a prima facie case against the two accused. He cited inconsistencies and contradictions between the witness statements to court and to the police and how the witnesses also contradicted each other. He dealt with both counts separately outlining the inconsistencies. One glaring inconsistency being Emma Mabena statement to police wherein according to the statement she was pushed and pulled into the vehicle but in her evidence to the court she said no one had forced her or threatened her in anyway.

The defence lawyer also said the prosecution had gone on a fishing expedition and that a reasonable court could not convict the accused.  “Your worship to note that all 3 state witnesses disowned their statements that they gave to the police indicating that they did not tell the police particular aspects of their statements and in some cases there seemed to be additions to their statements which witnesses clearly denied having given to the police. Clearly that raises a lot of eyebrows on the part of the state case where it would seem the police could have made additions to their statements or changed statements for unknown reasons. A case in point that Emma Mabena said she never told the police that she was forced into the vehicle and that no one ever threatened to assault her or take her somewhere and she would never come back. “

State prosecutor Mr Goodwill Katenaire requested a 45 minute break and then opposed the application in submissions that were often made in the format of a witness of the events rather than a prosecutor. He seemed to be determined to enter his own evidence into the case and left people in the court wondering where he had been when witnesses had made their statements. His desperation to obtain a conviction was evident as he manufactured his own accusations against the accused that there had been no verbal or written evidence by any witness in any of the court hearings. He accused Jennifer Williams of introducing her 2 colleagues as police officers when no witness had ever made this accusation. He justified this by saying that the ‘demeanour’ of the accused lent itself to the belief that they were police officers. Mr Katenaire also manufactured evidence on behalf of Emma Mabhena saying that she refused on several occasions to accompany the accused to Nketa to the home of Bokani Nleya.

In court evidence witnesses clearly stated that none of the accused had ever identified the other 2 ladies in the vehicle. Emma Mabhena in her evidence said she thought to herself the other unidentified people could be police as she had been told by her daughter in law that Williams and her colleagues were looking for stolen goods and decided that something was seriously wrong so she should accompany the accused.  She further testified going to the neighbours to inform them that she was going out for awhile.

The Magistrate will give his ruling on the application for discharge at close of state case on 16 January 2012.

Rural WOZA members released without charge

The WOZA members arrested and detained at Filabusi Police Station today were released without charge just after noon. Police returned all the t-shirts and scarves that they had confiscated but kept all the placards and copies of the People’s Charter to submit to provincial leaders.

Minutes before the peaceful protest was about to begin, a police vehicle arrived at the Post Office, the starting point of the demonstration. An officer armed with an AK 47 assault rifle alighted and approached two members. He said to them – “you are always talking about rights, but why don’t you say what rights you are talking about.” He then ordered them into the vehicle and drove them to the police station. Approximately 150 other members decided to follow and hand themselves in. Police stopped recording down their names after an hour, saying they were tired.

When the female officer in charge asked them why they were there, the women briefed her on the hunger in their homes, their inability to pay school fees and the fact that they were no longer allowed to dig for gold to help themselves. She apparently sympathised with them saying she also found it hard to make ends meet in her home. She then called the District Administrator to attend the ‘meeting’. He listened to the complaints; telling them food aid would soon be coming and that they should set more affordable fees, as parents. He accepted the People’s Charter and placards, saying that he would pass them on to his seniors and that a reply would come to them soon. They were then told to go home.

When lawyers attended shortly after their release, police denied that any women had been arrested – they had merely had a meeting with them. The lawyer did overhear some police officers planning to locate the whereabouts of Jenni Williams who was in the area to monitor proceedings however. Fortunately Williams was able to leave in the company of the lawyers before they could make good their plan.

WOZA declare a victory for non-violent protest and acknowledge the ‘sisterhood’ from the officer in charge who treated the WOZA activists with respect. We look forward to the promised food aid, hopefully without any political strings attached, from the District Administrator to be fulfilled.

WOZA launch ‘Occupy for Devolution’ series in Bulawayo

WOZA launch ‘Occupy for Devolution’ series in Bulawayo More than six hundred members of WOZA conducted street occupation sit in protests as part of a campaign to pressure for a devolved system of government to be included in the constitution draft. Nine separate protests were conducted simultaneously at 11 am Saturday 2 June 2012 around the western suburbs. Members’ occupied traffic controlled intersections, traffic circles and main roads by sitting in for over 10 minutes bringing traffic to a halt. The  placard-bearing activists also passed out leaflets calling for a devolved system of government and asking motorists and passers-by to make noise or ‘hoot’ for Devolution. The scenes of the protests where loud and noisy as motorists ‘hooted’ their support.

At the protest on Khami road Ntemba traffic roundabout, the 200 protesters were just completing their activity when a small black vehicle without number plates arrived and plain-clothed police officers jumped out of the vehicle and began to assault the members with sticks bearing thorns. Eight members suffered the beating with one having to be taken to the clinic as thorns were imbedded in a wound in her neck.

The demands of the protests are the release of a completed draft constitution that gives power to the people. As talk of a second GNU increases, WOZA demand an end to elite occupation of our systems of government and a devolved power and accessible provincial government and councils. WOZA make the charge that Bulawayo, Matabeleland is DYING because of centralized decisions which kill it. The elite have killed Bulawayo and now they are killing other parts of Zimbabwe.

The system required should include the following rights:
– The right to select our own provincial and council representatives.
– Powers to make local decisions, based on our views about control and use of our local resources. And how we want resource distribution to develop the local economy and create jobs for locals.
– MPs and Councillors who will be accountable to us, the electorate, and the right to recall them.

The protests will continue and citizens of Bulawayo and other cities are asked to make noise in the street – Hoot or whistle to demand your human right to a livelihood.

WOZA members believe that a devolved system of government is necessary to save the city from sure death. Bulawayo is WOZA’s home town and members have been watching as it becomes closer and closer to death by marginalisation and neglect. Once Bulawayo was the industrial hub of the country, but centralised decision making has been used to sideline many business, social and political initiatives that would have raised the resource-rich province to great heights. This neglect has nothing to do with the current economic downturn as in early 1920s, the then Government refused to initiate a programme that would have brought waters from the mighty Zambezi river into the dry arid earth of Matabeleland and created an industrial and agricultural oasis. Recently public statistics quote the closure of more than 80 businesses and the loss of over 20 000 jobs. Over one million Zimbabweans are said to live in South Africa, with the majority being Ndebele speaking people from Matabeleland forced into economic exile by marginalisation.

WOZA selected this form of protest to make a point that public spaces are spaces for public expression. Since last year Bulawayo police have been taking occupation of the streets with large deployment of riot police, water tankers and other instruments of protest repression. Bulawayo residents along with WOZA members have grown weary of the constant and indiscriminate ‘stop and search’ of pedestrians and commuters. Most of the time Police officers manning these points will directly tell people that they are looking for ‘WOZA women’ with placards or WOZA material. see the hoot for devolution flyer

Bulawayo members march to demand Draft release

Two hundred and fifty members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched in five separate protests at 2pm 10th September 2012 in Bulawayo. The march was to demand the release of the Copac draft constitution, calling for the second all stakeholders and referendum without any further delay. All five protests managed to reach the targeted destination which was The Chronicle newspaper. WOZA routinely target this state controlled paper in order to test if their protest and the issues will be covered. The peaceful protest brought 9th Avenue to a standstill with everyone attempting to photograph and encourage the activists to demand the draft constitution.
Although riot police were deployed they did not reach the 9th Avenue officers of the newspaper before the protest dispersed. WOZA is conducting a head count to ensure no arrests were made.

Meanwhile two members were ordered by the court to erase their graffiti did so at noon on 10th September 2012 along the Luveve road in Bulawayo. The two faced cruel and inhuman degrading treatment by law and order officers who were present. One of the police officers, Z. Moyo forced the two to remove their hats whilst and paint over the phrases in the blazing hot summer sun. They then made them remove other phrases not in the court order and threatened to make them remove more phrases during the afternoon. The prosecutor advised them that they were only to fulfil the order of the court for two phrases namely ‘no to a snap elect…’ and ‘go register to vote’.

Painting trial update

Nine members arrested during a graffiti road writing exercise on 2nd July 2012 have been sentenced in four separate trials held in Western Commonage Court in Bulawayo. Eight of the nine members were convicted and given harsh sentences with one being acquitted. The women spent three days in custody in Bulawayo central police station. The graffiti exercise was conducted to popularise the constitutional reform content. Members wrote phrases in non-permanent paint called ‘road liner’ paint but the magistrates found them guilty of ‘disfiguring property’ namely the tarmac road.

The charges were Section 47 (2) (d) of the Road Traffic Act 13:18 which reads “making marks on the road without a reasonable cause which is liable to a level 6 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months. They were defended by Paul Moyo a private lawyer deployed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Miriam Ngcebetsha and Ottilia Dube were ordered to remove their phrases at 11am Monday 10th of September before being sentenced on 12 September 2012. They will remove the phrases in the company of the prosecutor with traffic police officers stopping the traffic as they perform this sentence. They painted the phrases – ‘no to a snap elect…’ and ‘go register to vote’. The phrases are located in Matshobana (at the Rio bus stop/turn off) along the Luveve road after the flyover (6th ave ext).

Some of the phrases written on the road are “Devolution of power; No to death penalty; Fire Chihuri, Tomana and Mudede; Boycott snap election and go register to vote.” Many roads in Bulawayo and Harare still proudly carry these messages.

In the first week of August, just after the trials began, an unidentified police officer contacted WOZA to warn members to expect the worst from the trials. He said the Police Commissioner (Augustine Chihuri) was very unhappy with the audacity of WOZA to call for his firing defending himself by saying he was legitimately appointed by the president. The Police Commissioner is alleged to have ordered harsh sentences. Additionally the commissioner ordered that Law and Order department police officers attend every trial and report on progress. Apart from the obvious attendance by these police officers in court it was difficult to substantiate this order as the judiciary is supposed to be independent. However the handing down of the harsh sentences seems to confirm political interference. In further confirmation of political intervention, city council staff were deployed along the Khami road (11th Ave extension) to paint over the phrases to prevent the dignitaries driving that route from ‘seeing and reading’ the phrases.

Eunice Moyo, Mpikelelo Moyo and Teresia Phiri were given one month imprisonment or $100 fine. Their phrase is ‘no to death penalty’.

Sibongile Lumbile was sentenced to two months imprisonment, one month suspended for five years on condition that she does not commit a similar crime, or $100 fine which she paid. Phrase which was incomplete is ‘Devolutior’ (she was arrested before she could finish writing the N in the word.

Catherine Dhliwayo was acquitted of all charges but Vigilant Lunga, Violet Dube who handed over their paint splattered clothes to investigating officers who brought these as exhibits, were sentenced to six months imprisonment, three months suspended for five years on condition that they will not commit the similar crime within that period or 105 hours of community services. Violet Dube will serve these hours at Western Commonage Court and Vigilant Lunga at the Western Commonage police station. They were also ordered to go and erase the phrase that they wrote on the road. Phrase is ‘Devolution of power’.

WOZA thank Mr. Paul Moyo and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for legal defence. WOZA pray for a successful reduction of the harsh sentences from the High Court in the case of the four members who have submitted appeals.

WOZA wish to recognize the contribution of the members to furthering the constitution reform agenda. “You suffered the terrible conditions in the cells and harassment of police officers but won gender equality and many constitutional reform victories which are seen in the draft. May Zimbabweans appreciate your sacrifices when the draft constitution passes into law!”