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declares national disaster, demands food for all Zimbabweans in
Bulawayo - 9 arrested
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
October 16, 2008
Hundreds of members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of
Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) took to the streets of Bulawayo this morning,
marching for several blocks to Mhlahlandlela Government Complex
to declare a national disaster and demand immediate food aid for
all Zimbabweans. Nine members have been arrested at the time of
On arrival at
the Government Complex, the group of approximately 200 sat down
outside the gates whilst a delegation of four elderly women went
in to request that the Regional Department Heads of all the service
departments come out and address the crowd on what is being done
to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the country.
The group sat
peacefully waiting to be addressed for 45 minutes before five riot
police approached the group. Two leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu, were arrested and taken to Drill Hall, which is across
the road from Mhlahlandlela. The rest of the group were forcibly
dispersed by being beaten with baton sticks. At least one member
is receiving medical attention for the beating she received. Williams
and Mahlangu were later taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station,
where they are currently being held.
It appears that
a group of seven women were arrested before the demonstration began
as they were sitting waiting for the signal to start. They were
apparently sitting near some black market foreign exchange dealers
and were arrested along with them. They have also been taken to
Bulawayo Central Police Station. Lawyers are still trying to verify
reports that the group had been beaten inside Bulawayo Central.
The peaceful protestors had begun their march near the High Court
and processed several blocks to Mhlahlandlela, singing and handing
out flyers to passers-by who rushed out into the street to receive
them. A copy of the newsletter with the group's demands has
been included below.
The demonstrators also paused at two intersections to sit down whilst
chanting in Ndebele - 'ayihlale phansi ihambe umthetho'
(sit down and maintain discipline). As during their last demonstration
two weeks ago, this was sang both as a way to ensure that the activists
maintained non-violent discipline and also as a message to politicians
to sit down and respect the deal. Other songs sang include a WOZA
favourite - 'this is an issue that men are failing to
was further to a previous peaceful protest on 29 September where
the theme was 'actions speak louder than words'. The
political impasse continues a month after the power-sharing agreement
was signed and the crisis facing people in their daily lives deteriorates
dramatically every day. The power-sharing deal mentions grave concern
for the humanitarian crisis facing people and yet still nothing
has been done. People and children are dying of starvation whilst
the politicians continue to talk.
WOZA therefore continues to demand immediate action regarding the
formation of a new government that will begin to work on solving
urgent social issues, like food, electricity and water. Recognising
that the situation in the country is now a national disaster we
also demand that ALL Zimbabweans receive access to food aid and
also seed and agricultural inputs.
In other news, both groups of members facing trial this week have
been removed off remand. On Tuesday 14th, the decision on the application
for review of the case of Cynthia Ncube and Trust Moyo was not ready.
Whilst the decision from the High Court is pending, they were removed
14' due to face trial in Harare Magistrate's Court on
Wednesday 15th, were also removed off remand. The docket was not
available and although the State tried to insist that they were
ready for trial and were trying to get the group further remanded
for trial, the Magistrate upheld the resolution that she had made
on 26th August that if the trial did not take off on the 15th October,
the group would be removed off remand.
We also ask that you call Bulawayo Central Police Station on +263
9 72515, 61706 or 63061 and ask for the immediate release of all
WOZA members including Williams and Mahlangu and that they not be
mistreated in custody.
The newsletter being handed out by the protestors reads as follows:
once said, "You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist."
Was she talking about Zanu PF?
An open letter
from the people of Zimbabwe to:
Robert Mugabe/Arthur Mutambara/Morgan Tsvangirai
Team led by Thabo Mbeki
African Development Community Chairman/President South Africa
Union Chairman/ Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete
We declare a national disaster and demand food for all Zimbabweans.
You all signed an agreement
on 15 September 2008 with lots of taxpayer's money being used
to feed all the delegates. Now you are meeting again and spending
lots of money feeding the same people all over again, they sleep
with full stomachs while our children starve. You said this was
an 'African solution to African problems' but Africans
are dying slow and painful deaths through starvation. You wrote
in your deal that you were gravely concerned but these were empty
words. Today we have lost patience. We demand FOOD, SEED and FERTILISER;
this is now a national disaster. Zimbabweans both in rural areas
and in the city are starving, the rains are coming but we have nothing
In the agreement preamble it states that you are "CONCERNED
about the well-being of our people". THESE WORDS ARE EMPTY
JUST LIKE OUR STOMACHS.
You said you
"ACKNOWLEDGE the sacrifices made by thousands of Zimbabwe's
gallant sons and daughters in the fight against colonialism and
racial discrimination and determined to accept, cherish and recognise
the significance of the Liberation Struggle as the foundation of
our sovereign independence, freedoms and human rights."
IS STARVATION THE WAY YOU ACKNOWLEDGE OUR SACRIFICES? WHEN WILL
YOU SACRIFICE POWER FOR THE LOVE OF THE SUFFERING PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE?
You agreed "COMMITTING
ourselves to putting our people and our country first by arresting
the fall in living standards and reversing the decline of our economy."
You have put
yourselves first and us last! Inflation is in the billions, the
economy has collapsed. We are being told to buy food in Rand currency
and yet we live in Zimbabwe. Even if we have money in the bank,
we cannot get cash and it is even more impossible for us to get
foreign currency. What happened to your commitment? Did Police misunderstand
the word 'arrest' and put 'Living standards'
in jail thinking it is the name of an opposition activist?
You said "RESPECTING
the rights of all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation
to benefit from and participate in all national programmes and events
freely without let or hindrance."
We are therefore demanding a national food relief programme. How
many more Zimbabweans must die before you act? We are human beings
needing a balanced diet and cannot survive on green vegetables like
animals. We have lost patience with your kind of 'African
solution'. THIS IS A NATIONAL DISASTER AND WE DEMAND FOOD
FOR ALL ZIMBABWEANS NOW.
Woza Moya Signed
by WOZA members for the people of Zimbabwe
P.S. If Police
officers arrest us or beat us as we make our demand, you must take
it as another sign of your empty promises for a violence free Zimbabwe
and an unfortunate African solution to silence and disrespect citizens.
Thursday 16 October - 6pm
and Magodonga Mahlangu remain in custody in Bulawayo Central Police
Station tonight following their arrest earlier in the day. The seven
other members that had been arrested before the demonstration had
started have all been released without charge. It appears that they
were not beaten during their brief detention. They were released
one by one throughout the afternoon after the intervention of the
Three members have received
medical treatment for the beatings they received from riot police
outside Mhlahlandlela. One woman has a broken finger, the other
two bruising. All were beaten with baton sticks.
It is unclear
what Williams and Mahlangu are being charged with as the lawyer
has still been denied access by the Officer-in-Charge of the Law
and Order Section in Bulawayo Central, Detective Chief Inspector
Ntini. Food has been allowed in this evening however and the pair
appears to be in good spirits, although apparently Mahlangu was
beaten outside Mhlahlandlela along with the rest of the group.
The order for the group
to be beaten apparently came from Chief Inspector Mabhari, a senior
uniformed police officer based at Bulawayo Central Police Station.
He was also the officer that arrested Jenni Williams.
WOZA members that were
monitoring the demonstration report that as the group marched through
the streets, some of the comments from passers-by included a police
officer commenting to another, "now that's a proper
demo" and a man remarking to another, "these women are
doing a noble thing."
Please continue to call
Bulawayo Central Police Station on +263 9 72515, 61706, 63061 or
68078 to demand that Williams and Mahlangu not be mistreated in
custody and to be released speedily.
Friday 17 October - 1pm
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were remanded in custody until
Tuesday 21st October this morning in Bulawayo Magistrate's
Court. The pair had been arrested yesterday morning after a peaceful
demonstration. They have been charged under Section 37 1(a) of the
Law (Codification and Reform) Act - 'disturbing
the peace, security or order of the public'.
Mahlangu appeared in court this morning at 11.15am. On arrival at
court, the state prosecutor had agreed with the defence lawyer,
Kossam Ncube, that the state would not oppose bail and the amount
and conditions were settled. On entering the court room however,
Ncube was informed that a new prosecutor, Chifamba, was taking over
Chifamba argued that the two should be denied bail because there
was still an outstanding case pending, referring to the May 28 arrest.
As the group of 14 had been removed off remand in Harare Magistrate's
Court on Wednesday 15th, this matter is no longer pending. The Magistrate,
Maphosa, allowed the state time to verify this fact however, remanding
the two in custody until Tuesday 21st October.
It is clear from these
actions that the state is determined to deny the two bail, a clear
violation of the spirit of the power-sharing agreement signed by
the political parties on 15th September.
Williams and Mahlangu
will now be moved to Bulawayo Remand Prison later this afternoon
for the night. It is not clear if they will then be moved to Mlondolozi
Female Prison tomorrow or if they will remain at Bulawayo Prison
by the ruling, the two are determined to remain positive, even though
Mahlangu is in pain from the beating she received outside Mhlalandlela.
Apparently it was Chief Inspector Mabhari himself who beat her.
The Investigating Officer
of the case is Detective Sergeant Kennedy Nyahuye from the Law and
Order Section of Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Bulawayo Central Police Station: +263 9 72515/61706/63061/68078
(ask to speak to Chief Inspector Mabhari or Detective Sergeant Kennedy
Prison: +263 9 60417/60418 (ask that the women be treated
well and their rights upheld)
Attorney General's Office: +263 9 77651/61603 (ask
why the women are being denied bail when they have never been convicted
of an offence - the state should not imprison to investigate)
Public Prosecutor: + 263 9 63173 (ask to speak to Prosecutor
Chifamba - question as above)
Tuesday 21 October - 5pm
Magistrate to give ruling
on bail application on Friday 24th October - Williams and Mahlangu
remain in prison
Magistrate Maphosa has
reserved judgement on the request for bail for Jenni Williams and
Magodonga Mahlangu until Friday 24th October as the 'court
is very busy'. Bail hearings are normally heard on an urgent
basis. Williams and Mahlangu will therefore remain in Mlondolozi
Female Prison until that date.
The bail hearing was
heard in the absence of Williams and Mahlangu who had not been brought
from Mlondolozi as prison authorities claimed that they had no fuel.
This being despite the fact that the WOZA support team had been
informed yesterday by one of the prison guards at Mlondolozi that
they did currently have fuel. Two prison vehicles were also observed
by the WOZA support team travelling at great speed into Bulawayo
on Sunday afternoon.
The defence lawyer, Kossam
Ncube, had also been given permission yesterday by a senior prison
officer at Mlondolozi, Mathanire, to bring Williams and Mahlangu
to court in his own vehicle if transport was not available. Upon
arrival at Mlondolozi this morning however, Ncube was informed that
it would not be possible after all by Superintendant Dlamini.
The hearing finally went
ahead in their absence before Magistrate Maphosa. Prosecutor Chifamba
called another state witness, Detective Sergeant Ncube from the
Law and Order Section of Bulawayo Central Police Station to testify.
Ncube claimed he believed
that bail should be denied because of pending cases against them,
citing four different cases dating back to 2004. None of these cases
are actually pending but the witness tried to claim this was because
Williams and Mahlangu could never be found to be presented with
their summons! On cross-examination however, he could not deny that
the two accused had actually appeared in court for all of these
cases. Following the cross-examination of the state witness by the
defence, the court adjourned for lunch.
After lunch the magistrate
heard the arguments of the two attorneys. The state had three main
arguments: propensity, that the accused were of no fixed abode and
that they had cases pending against them. Chifamba argued that the
four cases mentioned by the state witness showed that the two accused
had committed similar offences on several occasions and were likely
to do so again. He claimed that the court should ignore the fact
that these were not serious crimes. He also claimed that because
the state witness had testified that he had tried on several occasions
to locate the two at their homes, and they were not there at the
time, obviously they did not live there. His third argument was
that the case relating to a July 2007 arrest that is currently before
the Supreme Court is pending and therefore Williams and Mahlangu
wilfully lied to the court when asked if they had any cases pending
Kossam Ncube cited a 1922 judgement (States vs Shaw) that ruled
that when arguing propensity, only convictions should be considered,
not mere charges. He also cited a 1973 South African case (State
vs Fourie) that ruled that with regard to propensity, only violent
crimes should be considered. He went on to argue that neither Williams
nor Mahlangu have ever been convicted of any crime.
to the accusation of the two having no fixed abode, Ncube argued
that there is no legal requirement for persons to remain at their
given address 24 hours a day on the off chance that police may come
looking for them. Just because Jenni Williams was not at home when
police came looking for her last year does not mean that she does
not live at the address that she has given. He also raised questions
about the admissibility of police notes that the state had entered
as evidence that police could not find Williams at her given address.
The notes merely stated that summons could not be served, not the
reasons why. The police officer who had made the notes was also
not present in court. Ncube asserted that Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu had never defaulted on a court appearance and therefore
did not constitute a risk, a fact that the state witnessed concurred
Ncube went on to argue
that in fact none of the cases mentioned by the state are in fact
pending as they had been removed off remand in all four cases. Williams
and Mahlangu did not therefore mislead the court when they stated
that they had no pending cases against them.
He also reminded the
court that the alleged wrongdoing was not a very serious one and
that to deny bail for an offence that carries the sentence of a
fine would be prejudicial to the two accused.
Following the argument,
Magistrate Maphosa pronounced that she would reserve her judgement
until Friday 24th October at 11.15pm. Attempts by the defence to
bring the ruling forward were rebuffed with the claims that 'the
court is very busy.'
The on-going detention
of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu and the delaying tactics
and machinations of the state are a clear violation of their rights
and the power-sharing agreement signed by the political parties
in September 2008. It is further evidence that ZANU PF has no desire
to act in good faith.
calls on all friends in the region and internationally to protest
the ongoing detention of Williams and Mahlangu, particularly ahead
of the SADC meeting on Zimbabwe next week.
Friday 24 October - 1pm
Magistrate Charity Maphosa,
who was due to rule on the bail application of WOZA leaders, Jenni
Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, today at 11.15am, was 'forced'
to attend a workshop instead, delaying her judgement until Monday
Williams and Mahlangu
remain in Mlondolozi Female Prison where conditions are terrible.
Cells are overcrowded and full of lice, food is extremely limited.
Prisoners receive only a small amount of sadza (maize) with green
vegetable cooked in water - no salt or any other form of nutrition.
The lack of salt is particularly worrying given the extreme heat
being experienced at the moment. Prison guards also routinely insult
As expected they were
not in court as prison authorities had no transport to bring them
to court. As on Tuesday however, the courtroom was full of state
agents and WOZA members who had walked to town (some for up to 15km)
to provide solidarity to Williams and Mahlangu.
On arriving at court,
the defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, was informed that Magistrate Maphosa
was not available and that another magistrate would deliver her
verdict. Instead Magistrate Sophie Matimba delayed the ruling until
Monday at 11.15am.
Williams and Mahlangu
were arrested over a week ago. Bail applications are usually heard
on an urgent basis.
It is clear that the
state aims to continue its harassment of these women human rights
defenders; the actions of a regime so terrified of its own people
that it has to imprison them.
SADC is meeting in Harare
on Monday to discuss Zimbabwe's future whilst human rights
defenders languish in prison for calling for food aid. WOZA continues
to urge its friends in the region and internationally to condemn
this persecution of women who are simply determined to provide a
better future for themselves and their children. Justice delayed
is justice denied.
Monday 27 October - 12pm
Magistrate Charity Maphosa
denied bail to Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu today in Bulawayo
Magistrate's Court claiming that it would not be in the best
interests of justice. The defence will lodge an urgent appeal to
the High Court.
Maphosa stated in her
ruling that there was not enough evidence to assert that Jenni Williams
did not reside at her given address as claimed by the state but
that there were pending cases against the two. As such, she maintained
that they had not been honest when asked in court if they had any
pending cases against them. All legal practitioners asked by WOZA
however state categorically that if a case has been removed off
remand, it is no longer pending. As such, neither Jenni Williams
nor Magodonga Mahlangu have any pending cases against them.
Maphosa also stated in
her ruling that as there were four cases with similar charges 'pending'
against the two it was likely that they would commit similar offences
again (even though the section of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence
Act that she cited in her ruling only makes mention of violent crimes).
She noted the political climate that is gripping the country and
claimed that in such a climate 'people are easily excitable'
and could be moved to violence if they saw such a demonstration.
With this statement, the true reason for the denial of bail is clear.
Once again ZANU PF has demonstrated that is determined to cling
to power whatever the cost.
WOZA condemns the ruling
of Magistrate Maphosa. We view it as further evidence that the judiciary
has been politicised and that the power-sharing talks currently
underway in Harare are a hollow sham. We call for the immediate
release of Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.
We remain committed
to demanding social justice for all Zimbabweans regardless of the
personal cost however and stand by the demands that led to Williams
and Mahlangu being arrested. Zimbabweans are dying. They are being
starved to death by a government that does not care for anything
except power. We are in a national crisis and we need food aid now.
We therefore appeal to our brothers and sisters in the SADC region
to help break the political impasse so that Zimbabweans can get
the food we so desperately need.
Monday 03 November - 12pm
Williams and Mahlangu
still in custody - day 19
Jenni Williams and Magodonga
spent their third weekend in Mlondolozi Prison as still no word
has been received from the High Court regarding their appeal. Although
the urgent application was filed on Monday 27th October, the defence
team is still waiting to hear from the High Court. The latest ploy
in a long list of delaying tactics is that the judge that received
the paperwork on Thursday 30th October has gone to Hwange and they
are unable to locate the file to give to another judge.
In the meantime there
is increasing concern for their well-being. Prison guards at Mlondolozi
are becoming increasingly hostile. They were threatening and abusive
to the team taking food to them on Thursday last week and are now
saying that the support team can only visit them once every two
weeks (having told them that they could see Jenni and Magodonga
once a day on week days). Food is still allowed in but they are
not allowed to receive visits. Apparently the reason is that prison
authorities are unhappy that Jenni and Magodonga are filing complaints
about the way that they are being treated by the prison guards and
are seeking to punish them.
WOZA calls for the immediate
release of Jenni and Magodonga. We would also like to thank everyone
who has sent solidarity messages and statements to and about the
to ask all friends in Zimbabwe, the region and internationally to
maintain pressure on the Zimbabwean authorities however to end this
harassment of women who are only guilty of loving their families
and their country.
Wednesday 5th November - 8pm
Williams and Mahlangu
granted bail by High Court - still in custody
Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu have been granted bail by Justice Ndou in the Bulawayo
High Court this afternoon. The two were instructed to pay bail of
$200,000 each (roughly USD 1.50). Other conditions include reporting
to their closest police station twice a week and not travelling
outside of a 40km radius of Bulawayo Post Office without written
permission from a Magistrate.
In a hearing at which
the two were not present, Justice Ndou ruled that the reasons Magistrate
Charity Maphosa gave for denying bail were not sufficient.
release the two were frustrated by administrative errors that meant
the re-typing (twice) of their release documents. These delays meant
that it was not possible to secure the release of the two this evening,
although the support team did travel to Mlondolozi to try. The team
will return to the prison first thing in the morning to collect
Thursday 6th November - 10am
Williams and Mahlangu
finally released from prison after 3 weeks in custody
Jenni Williams and Magodonga
were finally released from Mlondolozi Prison at 9:30 am today, three
weeks to the day they were arrested. Their bail had been paid yesterday
evening but prison authorities would not allow them to be released,
saying the prison administration was closed and it too late.
They are in fair health,
suffering from lice infections and needing to visit the doctor but
They bring with them
horror stories of prison conditions and treatment in both Bulawayo
(Grey Street) and Mlondolozi Prisons. For the first two weeks, the
activists were in the remand cell in Yard One, which is according
to prison regulations. Their treatment took a bad turn last week
Wednesday when Magodonga was moved into the yard inhabited by dangerous
prisoners, both on remand and convicted. Yard Two also accommodates
15 mental health patients. She was put in a cell with a patient
that is allowed to wander around naked and was moved from Ingutsheni
Mental Health Hospital for murder. She was unable to sleep at night
due to the antics of this and other patients.
The extreme hunger experienced
by most prisoners means that even orange peels and the scraps on
dirty plates are fought over. There is also no privacy for the female
prisoners. Male prison guards are allowed to wander around the female
prison and can see into washing facilities. Prisoners in Yard Two
are also stripped naked every day for inspection by prison officers
as they are locked down. At least three minors (aged 15 and 16)
were being kept in the same cell as Williams.
Williams and Mahlangu
will appear for a routine remand in Bulawayo Magistrate's
Court on Monday 10th November.
WOZA is delighted that
the state's petty attempt to pervert justice has finally been
overruled and looks forward to challenging these farcical charges.
WOZA would also like to thank Kossam Ncube and Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights for their support and their determination to secure
the release of Jenni and Magodonga.
Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu would also like to thank everyone who lobbied for their
release, sent messages of solidarity and kept them in their thoughts
and prayers. Solidarity from friends inside the country and around
the world went a long way to ensuring that their time in Mlondolozi
Prison was made more bearable. They are in good spirits and looking
forward to continuing the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Wednesday 5th November - 8am
Bail appeal hearing set
for 2.30pm Wednesday 5 Nov
have finally been given a hearing in their appeal to the High Court
against Magistrate Charity Maphosa denying Jenni Williams and Magodonga
Mahlangu bail. The matter will be heard before Judge Ndou at 2.30pm
this afternoon, 5th November. Despite it being an urgent application,
the High Court has taken over a week to give a hearing date.
In the meantime,
worrying reports have been received from Mlondolozi that Jenni and
Magodonga have been separated and that Magodonga has been put in
the same cell as mental health patients. As well as serving as a
remand prison, Mlondolozi also houses convicted prisoners and mental
health patients that have committed crimes. The apparent cause of
this separation is that prison authorities believe the pair to be
homosexual because Jenni was observed massaging medicated gel into
the injuries Magodonga received when she was beaten.
November - 8am
and Magodonga face trial in Bulawayo tomorrow
Leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) will appear on trial tomorrow,
2nd December, at 8.30am in Court 7 at Bulawayo Magistrate's
Court. The duo are charged with C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal
Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: "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 ..."
Mahlangu were arrested on 16th October at Mhlahlandlela Government
Complex. They were part of a group of 200 demanding that the humanitarian
crisis in the country be de-politicised and declared a national
disaster. They were denied bail by Magistrate Charity Maphosa and
detained in Mlondolozi Prison for three weeks before being granted
bail through an appeal to the High Court. They are on strict bail
conditions, which include reporting to police twice a week and not
being allowed to travel outside a 40 kilometer radius of Bulawayo
without written permission from a magistrate. They will apply for
a variation of these conditions which are a restriction of their
civil liberty and reminiscent of persecution of nationalists by
the former colonial government.
Mahlangu will appear before Magistrate Sithembile Ncube tomorrow.
They will be represented by Kossam Ncube, who has been briefed by
for Human Rights. The state will be represented by Prosecutor
On Friday 28th,
the State summonsed Magodonga Mahlangu for a arrest in 2004 under
c/s 7(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act chapter 9:15 - "acting
in a manner which is likely to lead to a breach of the peace or
to create a nuisance or obstruction". It is unclear at this
time if this charge will be tried separately or will be added and
incorporated into the current case. Jenni Williams has not as yet
received the summons although her name is reflected in the summons
given to Mahlangu.
from friends and civic partners at the trial would be appreciated.
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