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arrested, scores beaten in Harare and Bulawayo Valentines Day protests
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
February 15, 2013
Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) members in Harare and Bulawayo conducted their traditional
Valentine's Day protests and both protests were marred by beatings
and arrests. This is the 11th year WOZA has conducted such a protest
and this year's theme is under the theme - One Love. One hundred
and ninety five were arrested then released after some hours but
one woman remains in custody.
At 2 o'clock
on 13 February 2013, Harare members marched towards Parliament
in two separate formations. Riot Police based at Parliament disrupted
the both protests and fired 5 canisters of tear gas to disperse
the over 1000 strong protest sending members and bystanders scurrying
for cover. Many people were affected by the tear gas and some children
were seen crying. Business came to a standstill due to this indiscriminate
use of force to disrupt a peaceful protest.
Over 25 members
had to seek medical attention including the 8 members who were arrested
at parliament and beaten by the 8 Riot police during the 20 minute
wait for the police van to take them into custody. A ninth bystander
a male, had his cell phone taken and was separated from the others
and beaten for over 20minutes between the police reaction group
headquarters in Harare's Cramborne Barracks and Harare Central police
The 8 arrested
were Jennifer Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa, Hilda
Murapa, Enia Mazambare, Tambudzai Manangazira, Siphetheni Ndlovu
and Maria Majoni. As the women arrived at the Police station, the
receiving police officer chided his uniformed colleagues for 'arresting
WOZA' and told them to take them away. For over 2 hours no progress
was made and it was unclear if the 8 were in detention or not but
their liberty was obviously curtailed. After they were release all
9 including the bystander spent another 3 hours lodging a formal
complaint about the beatings, tear gas and abuse they had suffered.
A police report number is available for the complaint. All nine
then were taken to hospital for treatment and x-rays for the brutality
meted out on them at Parliament.
On 14 February
2013 members in Bulawayo conducted their Valentine's Day protest.
Members decided to march to the police Headquarters in 9th Avenue,
at Southampton House. Members wanted to demand that the Police respond
to formal complaints about police beatings and brutality. Police
brutality prevailed during a Water protest on 12 November. WOZA
then marched to hand over a protest on 29 November but no response
The 4pm protest
began with smoothly but when the 8 protest groups number 800 members
neared Southampton house, Riot police swooped and began indiscriminately
beating members. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu
managed to regroup the protest and after many skirmishes managed
to get the members to sit down on the pavement so that official
proceedings could begin. As this began senior ranking officers repeated
order for Riot officer to beat the two activists who were still
recovering from the Harare protest assault.
began arresting any male person they observed with a camera, numbering
The police boss
then requested Williams to go upstairs to the officer to dialogue
with the police provincial leadership. After obtaining assurances
that nothing would befall the members and that the 6 men arrested
would return with Williams, her and a colleague went upstairs.
was to be short-lived as the officers were obviously not cooperative
and kept blocking progress by insisting on a formal letter requesting
an appointment to receive feedback on the many complaint letters.
The meeting came to an abrupt end when Williams was telephoned by
Magodonga Mahlangu to say all the participants had been arrested
by the Riot Reaction group and taken to the Bulawayo Central Police
station. Williams then walked out of the meeting and handed herself
into custody with 179 other members. The 6 male members were also
still in custody at Southampton house.
The same police
bosses who had attempted to meet Williams, then arrived at the station
and misled the meeting with Williams had been fruitful and that
they did not know why or how the members came to be in the police
station but that they should leave immediately. Williams then addressed
members say they would leave police custody but only if the missing
6 male members were also released as they had all been together.
Without any further dialogue the officers barked order to the Riot
Reaction group to remove the 180 members forthwith from the police
station. A few members were then beaten again.
that of the six men that remained in custody only 1 is a WOZA member,
the others bystanders who took photos of the protest. They were
this night tortured by intelligence agents and then released home
for the night with instructions to return at 9am on 15 February.
The woman, Bertha
Sibanda is in custody for 'indecent exposure'. She was one of the
180 in custody and she stripped naked in the police station in frustration
at not having her complaints addressed. She is one of the 11 members
who were in a Water protest that police violently disturbed and
was subjected to tribal insults about Gukurahundi when she lost
family to this massacre.
members had medical attention, one of who has to have 3 teeth pulled
due to batons stick injury to her mouth.
have reported being called by police officers requesting information
about the protest plans and made the offer of money for information.
Two of the calls were made from Bulawayo number 60248 Code (00 263
9). WOZA suspect this number to be of an intelligence office. WOZA
invite activism to assist us in holding this intelligence office
accountable for harassment and beating of WOZA members in an attempt
to curtail their right to protest.
WOZA handed over their demands contained in the February 2013 Woza
the WOZA fact
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