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WOZA blame police for death of founding activist
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
November 13, 2007

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group have blamed police torture for the death of founding member and activist Maria Moyo. The 57 year old died on the 6th November from pneumonia complications which WOZA say were worsened by her experiences in police custody. Six members of the police Law and Order section allegedly burst into her Mabuthweni home in Bulawayo a few months ago and despite pleas from family members that she was ill, proceeded to drag her outside and bundled her into a vehicle with 4 other women from WOZA. The group was taken to Khami Dam outside Bulawayo, where they were interrogated, tortured and abused for 5 hours.

Moyo and the others were tied up with ropes and told they would be dumped in the sewage-polluted water if they did not disclose the whereabouts of leaders Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu. WOZA say that only a group of passers-by, who included a photographer, deterred the police from carrying out their threat. In just 4 years with the pressure group Moyo has been arrested ten times and on each occasion has been physically and mentally abused by the police. At the time of her last arrest her condition was deteriorating. Police are said to have only released her because they feared she might die in custody. After dumping her back home it was left to Moyo's family to take her to hospital.

It's reported that over a thousand people came to Bulawayo's Hyde Park Cemetery to pay their last respects to Moyo. Alongside Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu she had helped form WOZA in 2003 and has since led protests against human rights abuses in the country. At the funeral on Sunday Mahlangu said, 'I would like it to be known that the police are responsible for her death... She will be remembered for her ready smile even in harsh jail conditions. She will be remembered for her courage and commitment. May her soul rest in peace in a better place than the living hell of Zimbabwe.'

Moyo leaves behind a husband, nine children, and 12 grandchildren.

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