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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Magistrates shun WOZA case
    The Zimbabwean
    September 26, 2013

    Magodonga Mahlangu, a Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leader, was to appear in Tredgold Magistrates Court on 25 September 2013 to be formally charged under the Postal and Telecommunications Act Chapter 12:05, two counts under section 88 (c) 'making offensive phone calls without reasonable cause for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needle anxiety'.

    WOZA reports that despite appearing in court at 8:30am, no magistrate would accept the case, one after another recusing themselves for personal reasons. The drama in court had comical moments as law and Order police officers, Mahlangu, her lawyer Nontokozo Tachiona and over 20 WOZA activists attending the court in solidarity kept traipsing in an out of various courts hoping for a hearing. As the police officers insisted Mahlangu should appear in court, justice department personnel had no option but to issue a summons for her to appear in court on Monday 30 September 2013 for trial in the hopes that a magistrate would have been found to hear the matter.

    Mahlangu previously appeared in court one on this matter on 7 August 2013 wherein the magistrate advised the police to proceed by way of summons once they had their case in order. The police officers, recharged Mahlangu on Monday advising her to come to court on 25 September 2013 to appear and be formally charged.

    The complainant is Gladys Dube, a ward chair of the MDC-T. She alleges that Mahlangu called her on two occasions and threatened her saying, "you are a big sell out from the ruling party, we are coming to get you with police, CID personnel, if Welshman loses you will see it." On the second occasion, she alleges that Mahlangu said "you will see it I don't want to talk to you again". The state paper alleges that this caused the complainant annoyance and needles anxiety.

    Mahlangu does not dispute that phone calls took place but disputes that threats were made. Mahlangu and Jenni Williams the national coordinator of WOZA, made several calls to both MDC parties to advise them of a flyer being circulated in Matshobana suburb of Bulawayo on Elections day 31 July 2013. This flyer, whose authorship is unclear, bears stolen WOZA logos and uses the name of WOZA to de-campaign Morgan Tsvangirai.

    WOZA leaders realising that the timing of this mysterious flyer on Election Day could disturb the peace and so decided to be proactive in disassociating WOZA with the contents. Despite calls being made to various political leaders, including MDC-T Nelson Chamisa and to David Coltart and MDC Secretary General Pricilla Msirambwe -Mushonga, Gladys Dube decided to fabricate threats and made a report to the police resulting in the charges against Magodonga Mahlangu.

    The first call on was in response to a report that Gladys Dube in the company of another women had gone door to door threatening members for the flyers distribution. Mahlangu called the other women who immediately apologised when told that WOZA had not authored the flyer.

    Ms Dube when called denied any knowledge of the flyer or the threats on members and so she was just asked to keep calm and ignore the flyer and the call was gut short. Surprisingly she called back two hours later in the company of WOZA members who she asked to vouch for her that she had not threatened anyone and once again she was asked to just ignore the flyer and keep calm.

    At a meeting of WOZA Human rights monitors on 2nd August 2013, a member Christine Dube reported that Gladys had threatened her for reporting on her to the WOZA leadership, calling her a sell out. In the presence of 20 members, a further call was made to Gladys Dube asking her to please stop the threats.

    With the call on speaker phone, all 20 witnesses over heard her shouting insults and threats against Magodonga who could not get a word in edgeways. Stranger still is the fact that Ms Dube admitted making a vulgar insult to Magodonga in the presence of police officers in the senior area prosecutors office on 6th August 2013 but no charges were made against her.

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