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WOZA wins a victory in the Supreme Court
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 26, 2010

At 10am this morning, 26 November 2010, Justice Garwe, the Supreme Court judge of appeals, handed down a ruling on the 2008 challenge taken by WOZA leaders, Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. The verbal ruling granted that the two women had been wrongfully arrested and detained and, as a result, had their rights and fundamental freedoms violated. Justice Garwe also ruled that the state had failed to protect the activists from this abuse. The application for a repealing of section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was dismissed and reason will be made available.

Williams and Mahlangu were arrested on 16 October 2008 at the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex after a peaceful protest to demand that all Zimbabweans be provided with access to humanitarian aid. At that time there was widespread starvation and no food on the shelves and government had banned humanitarian aid. They were arrested and detained in Bulawayo Central Police Station and taken to court two days later charged under C/S 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23: "Acting together with one or more other persons with him/her in any place realizing that there is a real risk or possibility of disturbing peace, security or order of the public".

They were denied bail and sent first to Grey Street Prison and then to Mlondolozi Prison where they were held for three weeks. A successful High Court appeal granted them their freedom although initially restricting them to a 40km radius of their homes.

Williams and Mahlangu eagerly wait to have sight of the written ruling and to be able to prepare for a legal suit against the police for wrongful arrest and for damages.

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