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members outwit police officers
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 18, 2006
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
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
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
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.
the WOZA fact
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