Back to Index
holds silent march to launch '10 Steps to a New Zimbabwe'
Statement and arrest updates
Women of Zimbabwe
June 06, 2007
20 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) were arrested
in Bulawayo today. Amongst those arrested are Jenni Williams and
Magodonga Mahlangu, who handed themselves in at Bulawayo Central
in solidarity with a group that had been arrested earlier.
Members of WOZA
and MOZA had conducted a peaceful, silent march through Bulawayo
to launch their '10
Steps to a New Zimbabwe', a position on the current talks.
Two groups had started at different locations but were both marching
towards the offices of The Chronicle, a government-owned newspaper.
One group was met by riot police after one block and was beaten
and dispersed. The other group managed to march for two blocks before
again being met by riot police and beaten. A group of 15-20 was
arrested and walked to Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Hearing of the
arrests, the rest of the demonstrators regrouped, marched to Bulawayo
Central and tried to hand themselves in. Police refused them entrance,
grabbing only Williams and Mahlangu. When the rest of the group
tried to follow them into the station, police at the gates began
to viciously beat people to disperse them.
are already receiving medical attention for the beatings they received.
It is not clear if any of those arrested require medical attention.
Human rights lawyers are in attendance.
WOZA had marched
today to highlight the unfairness of talks that only involve politicians
who will be not be addressing issues of social justice - the
'Bread and Roses' Zimbabweans need. It was also to pressure
for the inclusion of voices at the negotiating table that will raise
socio-economic issues - issues at the heart of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Please see below the nonviolent guidelines that WOZA always operates
More news will
be made available as details emerge. See updates over time on this
1. We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction
2. We will be honest and will treat every person with respect, especially
3. We will express our feelings but will not harbour hatred.
4. We will be alert to people around us and will provide needed
5. As peacekeepers we will protect others from insults and violence.
6. During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
7. If we see a demonstrator threatening anyone, we will intervene
to calm down the situation. If demonstrators become violent, and
we cannot stop it, we will withdraw.
8. We will not steal, and we will not damage property.
9. We will not carry any weapons.
10. We will not bring or use any alcohol or drugs, other than for
11. We will keep the agreements we make with other demonstrators.
In the event of a serious disagreement, we may withdraw.
12. We will accept responsibility for our nonviolent actions, and
we will not lie nor use deception to escape the consequences of
Let me not pray
to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to
conquer it. --Rabindranath Tagore
Wednesday 6th June - 6pm
WOZA members remain in custody in Bulawayo tonight. Reports that
20 members were arrested were inaccurate as the women seen entering
Bulawayo Central Police Station were not WOZA members. The members
that remain in Bulawayo Central are all women, including Jenni Williams,
Magodonga Mahlangu, Angeline Karuru and Rosemary Siziba.
in attendance have seen the group but police are refusing to discuss
possible charges at this stage. Although the five arrested at the
scene of the demonstration were all beaten during their arrest,
the extent of their injuries is not clear. Food has been allowed
in this evening.
have been treated for injuries they received from beatings but we
are still waiting for reports on their injuries.
It also appears
that in the immediate aftermath of the demonstrations, a police
van was seen driving around central Bulawayo with a loudhailer telling
citizens not to pick up the WOZA flyers and placards. This is particularly
interesting as a group of approximately 20 riot police were seen
avidly reading the placards and flyers left by the demonstrators.
for the welfare of those in custody, particularly in the current
state of repression and in the light of the threats made against
Williams and Mahlangu by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Please call Bulawayo Central on +263 9 72515 / 61706 to remind them
that the world is watching.
Thursday 7th June - 1.30pm
The seven members arrested
yesterday remain in custody at Bulawayo Central. Lawyers have been
denied access to their clients this morning and police are refusing
to discuss possible charges or the possibility of being taken to
court. The 11am deadline for court submissions has passed and therefore
the group will not be taken to court today.
Two of the members in
custody were badly beaten during their arrest and are in a lot of
pain. As the lawyer has been denied access to them, they have not
received any medical treatment. Food has also been denied this lunchtime,
although there were no problems taking in food at breakfast or dinner
At least 20 members have
sought medical attention for the beatings they received yesterday.
Most injuries involve soft-tissue bruising; no severe injuries have
been reported as yet. Many of these members have testified that
as they were being beaten, police were telling them that police
do not want to arrest WOZA members any more as they are too troublesome.
It is their intention to 'just beat them'.
will be made available as they emerge.
Thursday 7th June - 7pm
spent second night in custody
The seven members arrested
yesterday in Bulawayo are spending a second night in custody. Their
lawyers were denied access to the group all day and they still have
not received medical treatment. Food was allowed in this evening
under the escort of the lawyer. It is still not clear what the group
will be charged with but it is hoped that they will be taken to
court in the morning.
calling Bulawayo Central Police Station on +263 9 72515 / 61706
to demand that the women be allowed access to their lawyers and
to medical treatment.
for Mahlangu and Williams
update Friday 8th June - 10.30am
Five of the
seven WOZA members being held at Bulawayo Central Police Station
have finally been charged. These members had been arrested at the
demonstration and have been charged under Section 46 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) as read with Section 2(v) of the
schedule to the Criminal Code - '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'. They are currently being taken to court.
and Magodonga Mahlangu, who handed themselves in to the police station
in solidarity, have not yet been fingerprinted or had their statements
taken. Police are refusing to allow the lawyers access to them.
It is also not clear what these two will be charged with. There
is concern that police may try to detain these two further or take
this opportunity to carry out their death threats on the two WOZA
activists. Lawyers are making an urgent high court application for
calling Bulawayo Central Police Station on +263 9 72515 / 61706
to demand that Williams and Mahlangu be released immediately and
not be harmed.
8th June - 2.30pm
Williams and Mahlangu
still detained; police applying for warrant of further detention
There is still extreme
concern for the well being of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.
They are still being detained without charge and police are planning
to apply for a warrant of further detention. Lawyers are being told
that they will be taken to court tomorrow.
However as Law and Order
officers have directly threatened these two, telling them that they
will be taken to Harare and detained and tortured, WOZA does not
believe that their safety can be maintained during those 24 hours.
We also believe that it is just a tactic to keep them in custody
The other five
members were released at lunchtime. They were taken to court but
did not appear before the magistrate. Police were instructed to
proceed by way of summons.
Friday 8th June - 9pm
Mahlangu spend third night in custody
Two WOZA members, arrested
on Wednesday, are spending a third night in custody. They are expected
to appear in court tomorrow morning at 9am. It is believed that
they are also being charged under Section 46 of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) as read with Section 2(v) of the schedule
to the Criminal Code - 'interfering with the ordinary
comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public or creating a
nuisance or obstruction', the same as the other activists.
They were allowed food
at dinnertime with no interference and the members who took in the
food report that they are in good spirits. WOZA activists will maintain
a vigil outside Bulawayo Central Police Station through the night
to ensure that they come to no harm however.
The five members
who were released today at lunchtime received medical treatment
for their injuries, mostly soft tissue bruising. One member related
how she was beaten with baton sticks by several police officers,
including across the breasts. She is in severe pain and doctors
are worried that some of the lesions may form into abscesses. Another
member, who was not arrested, needed to receive specialist treatment
this afternoon and will need to have an operation tomorrow. She
was kicked in the groin by booted police officers on Wednesday and
is bleeding heavily.
With the release
of the women, we have been able to learn much more about conditions
in the cells. The women related how officers threw bucket loads
of water into the cells every day, forcing them to spend the entire
time on wet concrete. In the middle of a cold Bulawayo winter, the
group of seven was also only given two blankets in total. As a result,
many of the women are suffering from cold symptoms.
The group of seven was
also kept in a cell by themselves, away from the other women prisoners.
It is suspected that this was to prevent the WOZA activists from
teaching their fellow detainees about their rights and recruiting
them to join the nonviolent struggle for social justice in Zimbabwe!
It is believed that Williams and Mahlangu are currently being held
in a cell with other women however.
Saturday 9th June
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, finally were taken to court
this morning at 8.30am, although they had to wait until 11am to
see a magistrate. They were released on bail of $100,000 each and
were remanded to 18 June. They have been charged under Sections
37 (1a) and 46 (2v) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Chapter 37 - 'participating
in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of
the peace or bigotry'. Section (1a) reads "any person
who acts together with one or more other persons present with him
or her in any place or at any meeting with the intention or realising
that there is a real risk or possibility of forcibly disturbing
the peace, security or order of the public or any section of the
46, as read with Section 2(v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal
Code, reads "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".
Their lawyer, Kossam
Ncube, also took the opportunity to serve notice on the State that
he will file a constitutional challenge to these charges on 18 June.
His argument is that the wording is too vague and meaningless, thereby
rendering them ineffective and a waste of time.
Police maintain that
Williams and Mahlangu threatened the security of the police station
by their actions and disturbed the peace. The police also allege
that Williams and Mahlangu refuse to disperse with the others and
so were arrested.
In actual fact, when
the activists arrived at the police station they were asked to line
up, which they did. Two officers then came up and dragged Williams
into the station by her hands. As Mahlangu was in front of Williams,
she too was dragged in. As the two were being dragged in, riot police
indiscriminately beat those peacefully lined up causing serious
injuries to many. Police officers were observed taking video footage
of these events, which can only corroborate the violence unleashed
on the peaceful activists if it will be shown in court.
Williams was also served
with two summonses to appear in court on 23 July and 2 August for
arrests in 2004.
Both women are in good
spirits but bearing the effects of spending three nights in cold,
wet conditions. Both will require medical attention.
As mentioned yesterday,
one member, Alice Banda, has been operated on this afternoon. She
had not been arrested but was hit by riot police on Wednesday, fell
to the ground and then kicked in the abdomen with booted feet. Whilst
she was on the ground, members fleeing from being beaten trampled
on her. She received specialist treatment yesterday afternoon where
doctors have discovered a lump. She underwent exploratory surgery
this afternoon where doctors removed excess blood. She is now out
of surgery and in post-op treatment. We are currently awaiting an
update from the doctor. It also transpires that two members were
beaten in the charge office at Bulawayo Central. (See attached photo)
Both were assaulted with baton sticks and one woman was prodded
in her private parts with a baton stick by a male officer.
WOZA is thankful for
the safe return of all seven activists who were arrested and praises
the courage and determination of all its members who braved beatings
and humiliation to stand up and make their voices heard at this
crucial time in our country's history. Having heard first-hand
the passion and intensity with which people outlined their vision
of a new Zimbabwe, which was captured in the People's Charter,
WOZA is determined not to let them down and to amplify their voices
and their dreams.
Many police officers
also complained to the activists that they should have gone directly
to President Thabo Mbeki rather than to protest in the streets of
Bulawayo. WOZA is giving their 'advise' serious thought!
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.