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