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in court for WOZA
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
August 18, 2011
Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge, Sikhangezile Sibanda, and Simangaliphi
Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube, Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo,
and Memory Matandare arrested
on 24 May 2011 appeared in Western Commonage Magistrate Court on
the 15th of August 2011. The Magistrate Themba Chimiso ruled that
the state must withdraw the charges before plea. This followed an
application by the defence team from Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the charges.
were charged with two counts: 1. Intentional engaging in a disorderly
or riotous conduct as defined in section 41(a) of the Criminal
Law Codification and Reform Act 9:23. Alternatively encumbering
or obstructing the free passage along any street, road, throughfare,
sidewalk or pavements as defined in section 46(2)(f) of the Criminal
Law Codification and Reform Act.
Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa cited a Supreme Court ruling
obtained by WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 protest
related arrest. Lawyers argued that the charges were similar to
the section 37 (1) a (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act, the subject of the Supreme Court ruling. As a result of this
ruling, it followed that WOZA members should not be arrested under
similar conditions as they infringe on their constitutional right
to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, section 20(1)
and 21(1) of the Constitution.
This argument rendered the Prosecutor D. Ndebele dumb and he had
no option but to withdraw the charges before plea and record this
in the docket. The members, including a 3 month old baby Rejoice
had spent a night in custody. They were arrested during a peaceful
protest in the Pumula suburb of Bulawayo at their local Electricity
supply office demanding a decent electricity service. WOZA members
were conducting a 'power to poor people' campaign targeting the
Zimbabwe Electricity company which has a monopoly and overcharges
accused of writing messages about the poor electricity service appeared
in Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo on 18th of August 2011.
The six members, Janet Dube and 5 others were in the dock for most
of the morning facing trial. The trial is being heard by Magistrate
Roselyn Dube and the state prosecutor is Jeremiah Mutsindikwa. They
are defended by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Lizwe Jamela
and Nosimilo Chanayiwa. They are charged with contravening section
140 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23,
malicious damage to property. The property being the tar road connecting
the Pelandaba to the City centre.
to property reads: Any person who, knowing that another person is
entitled to own, possess or control any property or realising that
there is a real risk or possibility that another person may be so
entitled, damages or destroys the property. (a) intending to cause
such damage or destruction; or (b) realising that there is a real
risk or possibility that such damage or destruction may result from
his or her act or omission; shall be guilty of malicious damage
to property, and liable to. (i) a fine not exceeding level fourteen
or not exceeding twice the value of the property damaged as a result
of the crime, whichever is the greater; or (ii) imprisonment for
a period not exceeding twenty-five years.
Two police officers
who arrested the accused gave evidence. Shepherd Sipili and Lawrence
Chademana's evidence seemed to contradict their own written statements.
They admitted arresting Sibekezele and Therezia, saying the other
accused could have been arrested by other officers who were not
in court. The trial will continue on the 1st of September where
the Engineer Lengama Douglas Ncube from City Council must explain
how he calculated the USD 349 damage apparently caused by the women's
graffiti. The six women were arrested on Wednesday 18 May 2011 by
armed police officers. During their detention they were denied access
to food and lawyers, split up and help in inhumane conditions in
suburban police stations and held for longer that the 48 hours allowed
by law. WOZA would like to thank Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights for delivering a legal victory
for the Pumula members and look forward to another victory for the
six accused of writing 'power to poor people'.
the WOZA fact
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