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southern African summit over, crackdown resumes In Zimbabwe
Sithandekile Mhlanga and Patience Rusere, Voice of America
August 24, 2007
Police in Zimbabwe's
second city of Bulawayo arrested six members of the activist group
of Zimbabwe Arise early Friday, but freed them late in the evening
after allegedly threatening them with death if they did not cease
WOZA National Coordinator
Jenni Williams said police officers took the women to the Khami
ruins about 40 kilometers outside the Matabeleland Province capital,
and told them they would be thrown into a reservoir there if they
did not quit the group.
WOZA sources said Maria
Moyo, Rosemary Siziba, Aida Ndebele, Margaret Ndlovu and two others
were taken from their homes by police around dawn. The group said
police also tried to break into the home of Magodonga Mahlangu,
a WOZA official in Bulawayo, but having failed to gain entry, then
seized her dog.
In Masvingo, capital
of the province of the same name, police were said to have raided
the homes of two WOZA members Thursday night seeking documents.
Williams said the six
Bulawayo women were traumatized by the ordeal, particularly Maria
Moyo who is ill, while another had a one-year-old infant with her.
She said the police officers
released the women after some white journalists visiting the Khami
resort area approached them.
Williams told reporter
Sithandekile Mhlanga of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that she suspects
that the motive behind the raids raids is that police learned her
organization held an annual congress earlier this month in secret,
avoiding official scrutiny.
and civic activists say that in the wake of the Southern African
Development Community summit last week, the government has resumed
cracking down on its opposition among political parties and civil
On the weekend immediately
following the summit, some 15 clerics and opposition members were
arrested while conducting a prayer meeting in Chitungwiza, a satellite
city south of Harare. A few days later, police arrested two American
women who were filming a documentary about rape in Zimbabwe, deporting
them to South Africa.
sources said, plainclothes police officers attempted to arrest organizers
of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe
National Students Union as they spoke at a public meeting in
Gwanda, but the two managed to escape.
Also Thursday, agents
of the Joint Operations Command, a coordinating mechanism for the
country's police, military and security agencies, interrogated officials
of the Bulawayo Agenda, threatening them with arrest if anyone in
a meeting they have called for Saturday, Aug. 25, mentions President
Robert Mugabe's name.
Then on Friday police
in Bulawayo seized WOZA members from their homes.
in Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya tells
reporter Patience Rusere he thinks the crackdown is meant to bolster
Mr. Mugabe's reputation as a resolute figure who does not care about
public or international opinion.
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