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Five arrested at WOZA human rights demonstration
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
December 12, 2005

Five women from the Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group were arrested on Saturday in Harare during a protest march commemorating International Human Rights Day. The group had gathered at Fourth Street in the city centre and were headed for Nelson Mandela Avenue when police intercepted the procession. Loise Grezia, Rosemary Mironga, Julia Chipehama, Noria Kadhari and Monica Chimbiro were all briefly arrested before police released them later in the day. The group alleges they were assaulted whilst in custody and one police officer in particular, known only as Mhondoro, led the assault. Due to a combination of this assault and the police refusal to give them access to lawyers, the women decided to negotiate the payment of Z$$25,000 admission of guilt fines and were released around 5pm in the evening. WOZA launched six separate protests around the country and even took time to distribute their December Newsletter, which included an open letter to the Zimbabwe Republic Police to stop arbitrary arrests of WOZA women. The group also urged the police to uphold the 2001 Harare resolution of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) regarding the code of conduct for police officials.

The pressure group cited Article 1, which says 'in the performance of their duties, police officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons'. In Bulawayo the women marched from Mabutweni Shopping Centre to the local police station where they left placards and the open letter to the police. In Mpopoma, the protest started at Msitheli High School and ended at Matshobana Beer Garden. As the women dispersed, a police vehicle pursued some of the protestors before giving up the chase.

In Tshabalala, they gathered at the shopping centre and marched towards Sizinda Beer Garden while in Magwegwe, Pumula, Emakhandeni Nkulumane and Luveve, the protests took place without incident. WOZA co-ordinator Jenni Williams told Newsreel that hundreds of women protesters heeded the call countrywide. They wore t-shirts calling on Zimbabweans to 'Stop Violence against women and in the spirit of "Tough Love", WOZA's brand of civil disobedience, the 'mothers of the nation' defied the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and conducted their protests without giving notification to the police.

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