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members acquitted while Williams and Mahlangu appear on trial 12
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 11, 2011
The trial failed
to begin as the State did not have the docket assigned to a court
and key witness Emma Mabhena did not come to court despite being
issued with a subpoena. Mabena and the 3rd witness Thabi Ndlovu
had a warrent of arrest issued for them. Williams and Mahlangu were
remanded to Monday 19 December for Trial under Magistrate Goodluck
Sangweni in Regional Court A. The Prosecutor is Mr Goodwill Katenaire.
WOZA leaders will be defended by Kossam Ncube deployed by Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights.
Six women were
granted a discharge by Bulawayo Magistrate. They were arrested on
Wednesday 18 May 2011 and spent 6 days in police cells before being
charged with contravening section 140 of Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23, malicious damage
to property. Magistrate Roselyn Dube on 9 December 2011 acquitted
the six, they had faced a fine or imprisonment. The court victory
was secured by the chief officer, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights who defended the six members.
Public Prosecutor Jeremiah
Mutsindikwa failed to prove that the six women had painted messages
on a Bulawayo road. Some of the messages were: 'power to the
poor people' and 'police stop abusing our rights',
'Yes to power, Pre-paid meters for all', and 'No
to violence - Woza'.
The matter had
over 10 sittings of the trial since August. It began with the hearing
of defence witnesses and a staff member of the City Council, Engineer
Douglas Lengama Ncube. Key evidence leading to the discharge was
the testimony of the Engineer who told the court that he had signed
his statement written by the police without scrutinising it in detail.
Another key moment was reached when the Investigating Officer Moyo
had to take the stand and explain how he arrested the women. He
testified that he had not arrested the women but had just been assigned
the case without his direct involvement. As a result of this statement,
he refused to comment on the case merits.
On 12 December
2011, Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu will face Kidnap
and Theft charges in Tredgold Magistrates Court. The two were arrested
on 21 September 2011, denied bail and sent to prison before the
High Court granted them bail.
The state is
set to nominate a special magistrate and prosecutor for the case.
A Supreme Court ruling found that Williams and Mahlangu's right
to freedom of protest was obstructed by a 2008 arrest. As a result,
no conviction for protest related charges can be successfully made
against the two. Many police officers have threatened the two to
fix them with criminal charges and therefore this case is viewed
as an attempt to fix the duo with criminal charges.
the WOZA fact
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