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tale of two trials
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
October 01, 2013
(55), a Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) member, who is on trial charged
under the Public Indecency and Public Exposure Act, appeared on
trial in Tredgold Magistrate Court, Bulawayo. She appeared before
Magistrate Ms Charity Maphosa on Monday 30th September 2013 for
continuation of trial and was defended by Kossam Ncube. A ruling
is expected on 9th October 2013.
On the same
day, Magodonga Mahlangu also appeared on trial in court one before
Magistrate C. J. Mberewere, charged with making offensive calls
without reasonable cause. Defense lawyer, Nontokozo Tachiona applied
for Mahlangu’s discharge when the stated closed its case.
The complainant, MDC T ward chair for Matshobana in Bulawayo, and
the two state witnesses contradicted their own evidence and disassociated
themselves with their statements prepared by the law and order department
of the police who insisted the matter be prosecuted. The Magistrate
will rule on if Mahlangu must take the stand in her own defense
and present witnesses for the defense on 8th October 2013. (For
more info see this link http://wozazimbabwe.org/?p=1463)
was amongst 180 WOZA members who were arrested during the Valentine’s
Day protest on the 14th of February 2013. She was detained after
the rest of members were released as she had removed her outer garments
whilst in the Bulawayo Police station courtyard.
Nhamburo prosecuted for the State, leading evidence that on Sibanda
removed her skirt and blouse in public in full view of the police
who were arresting the protesting group of WOZA women.
before the court on 30 September was for the accused person and
defense witnesses to take the stand. Ms Sibanda told the court that
she stripped following an instruction from the arresting police
officers who shouted bvisa (a Shona language word meaning remove
She said, “Police
officers shouted ‘bvisa’ to the group and I asked them
if we should removed our clothes and they responded with same word
‘bvisa’. I asked them about three times if I should
go ahead and they still maintained that we should strip.”
Sibanda, there was nothing wrong with her stripping since she only
stripped after enquiring if she should do it and got an affirmative
response from the police officers. “I thought they wanted
me to strip following the arrest. I have information from other
people’s narrations that women are required to remove their
clothes when they are arrested,” explained Sibanda.
both members of WOZA arrested on the day in question, Hlalaphi Ndlovu
and Joyce Ndebele took the stand and both maintained that the instruction
to remove clothes came from the police officers. The members felt
that the command shouted to the group of arrested women, misled
them to think that they were under arrest and expected to remove
their clothes in the courtyard. The two said that they did not strip
as WOZA leader Magodonga Mahlangu stopped them told them to sit
down and await for formal procedures after a telephone conversation
with WOZA leader Jennifer Williams.
took the stand on 1st October 2013 when the trial resumed. She testified
that she had stopped the mass undressing after calling Jennifer
Williams to advise her that over 180 members had been arrested.
Williams had been part of the protest and Officer Commanding Bulawayo
District Chief Inspector Maninge had asked her to come upstairs
to his office so as to discussing the cause of the protest. When
Mahlangu called Williams to advise of the arrests, Williams was
in the office of the chief Inspector and she immediately advised
him of the news and announced to him and to Mahlangu on the phone
that she was walking out of the meeting as the police boss had obviously
not negotiating in good faith by arresting members.
arrived at Bulawayo Central police station with the police boss.
He had addressed the protest promising that no one would be arrested
whilst Williams meet with him and his police staff. Williams and
members seated in the courtyard refused to leave pending the release
of Bertha and 8 male members but Chief Inspector Maninge ordered
the Police Reactions group to beat anyone who refused to leave the
police station despite them having been brought there under arrest
by the same Police Reaction group.
Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) would like to thank Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights for their continued support in deploying
their members to defend WOZA human rights defenders as they face
persecution by prosecution by a police force selectively applying
the WOZA fact
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