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appear in court, police confirm looking for organisers
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
May 24, 2011
Eight WOZA members
arrested during a Power
Protest March on the 24th of May 2011 appeared at Western Commonage
Magistrate Court on 26th of May 2011. Those arrested were Grace
Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, Simangaliphi Msimanga,
16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory
Matandare with her 3month old baby Rejoice.
were represented by Human Rights Lawyer Kossam Ncube and appeared
before Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja. The Public Prosecutor was Fiona
Ncube-Dhenere represented the state.
They were formally
charged with two counts the Criminal
Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23 Count 1 is Section 41(a)
- Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct and count
2 Section 46(2) (f) - Encumbering or obstructing the free passage
along any street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk or pavements.
As the state
was opposing bail a hearing had to be conducted. The state called
Investigating officer Detective Assistant Inspector Nhlanhla Ncube
from Pumula Police station to give evidence. He argued that police
are not done with the investigations as they want to arrest the
organisers of the action. He told the court that since January police
have been on the lookout for Woza organisers and they want those
in custody to lead them to the organisers.
argued that this matter was not to be put on the shoulders of the
current accused who should not suffer as a result of police incompetence
to do their work. After an adjourned the Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja
indicated that it is the duty of the police to investigate first
before arresting and not to arrest and investigate. He reminded
the police prison cells are not place to keep people who have not
been proven to be guilty while police officers are doing their investigations.
He granted them $100 bail each, and ordered them to report every
Friday at Pumula police camp until the finalisation of the matter.
The defence applied to challenge the charges on the next remand
date which is the 9th June 2011. All the accused pleaded not guilty.
The charge and
statement taking procedures were done 8 times with all statements
being torn up and 'they did not make sense' so finding a charge
was problematic and it is amazing with this background that the
investigating team went further to want to refuse bail and indicated
that they wanted to arrest the organisers since January. Noting
the evidence made by the police officer under oath is a confirmation
of the police harassment of WOZA human rights Defenders and direct
proof that there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms
of assembly and expression and promises contained in the political
agreement. It is also direct contempt for a Supreme
Court ruling obtained by Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 arrest.
It is promising to note that the magistrate reminder to the police
that they must investigate then arrest is a reprimand for the police
force that prefer to employ persecution by prosecution as standard
practice and it is hopeful that in the next sitting he will rule
for these frivolous charges to be withdrawn.
It is sad to
note that arresting officers initially asked for deport fines to
be paid but members said they had not committed any offence and
demanded their right to appear in court. The just action at that
point was to release the eight but they could not be humble and
proceeded to detain them. The whole afternoon on Tuesday, they could
not find a police station to detain them and the law and order department
also refused to receive the case saying that arresting officers
were overzealous must finish their own dirty work and even questioned
why they were even arrested in the first place. The arbitrary arrest
of human rights defenders is an urgent call for security sector
the WOZA fact
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