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throng the government complex in Bulawayo - beaten and dogs deployed
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 29, 2013
At 1030am 29
November 2013, one thousand members started 11 separate processions
so that they could march to Bulawayo Mhlahlandlela Government complex
to hand over a petition to the resident minister Eunice Moyo covering
WOZA demands. The petition was successfully handed over to her office
but pandemonium prevailed as police disturbed a peaceful protest.
The city had
riot or reaction police on most street corners to prevent the start
of any protests. Two out of eleven protests arrived at the entrance
of Mhlahlandlela without incident but the other eight protest groups
were set upon by reaction groups’ police who beat members
with baton sticks. One protest was stopped and seated in the tarmac
by 16 police officers and when there was not clear instruction as
to if they were under arrest, member left and continued their peaceful
have been treated for dislocated knee and grazed elbow from baton
stick injuries. Over 50 other members report baton stick injuries
but were treated with painkillers.
members managed to re-group and made their way to Mhlahlandlela
determined to petition as is their right under the constitution.
One single police
truck seemed to constantly pick up arrested members who were then
released and others arrested making the number of arrested hard
coordinator, Jenni Williams who had delivered the petition to the
minister’s office, then called members to regroup at the complex
entrance and told members that the petition had been delivered and
signed for and she then signaled that members should peacefully
disperse in procession to the nearby bus terminal. After this address,
Williams and Mahlangu lead members away but new group of police
officers arrived with batons sticks and shields and stopped the
dispersal. Police officers surrounded Williams and Mahlangu with
huge shields pressed against their bodies and forced them into the
police Drill hall opposite the government complex. These officers
beat any members who attempted to walk in with the 2 leaders but
3 members managed to accompany their leaders.
As the leaders
were being led away, police officers started to drive the hundreds
of members enraged at the arrest of their leaders away from the
complex down the street in the direction of the Batch Street. After
several surges to come back to the Complex failed and the group
was chased by police officers with dogs. The dogs were held on the
leashes but the officers kept threatening to unleash them, these
officers and their police dogs drove the crowd at a run for 5 kilometers
towards the Mpopoma fly over. Some members were driven into the
bush on either side of the roads in the Thorngrove suburb adjoining
the light industrial area. These officers also said they did not
want members to board commuter omnibuses, but chased them out of
town saying they would regroup and resume the march. Police officers
quickly manned roadblocks on the Khami road to prevent the return
by commuter of the members they had chased with their dogs. The
Reaction Group officer in charge based at Drill Hall Inspector Mzombi
issued the orders for beating and arrests and generally disrupted
the peaceful protest and curtailed the right to protest now protected
under the new constitution.
who remained at Mhlahlandlela chased away any woman in the vicinity,
members or non- members of the Mhlahlandlela complex was then chased
away but men were allowed to continue with their business undisturbed
by the gender discrimination.
leaders Williams and Mahlangu were held for 3 hours without any
explanation at the Drill Hall until they were driven to the Bulawayo
Central police station and united with 12 other members who had
been arrested. They remained there for another hour before Chief
Inspector Musvuti the officer commanding Bulawayo released them.
He flippantly advised Williams and Mahlangu and the 12 members that
there was no problem and that they were free to leave. He said he
did not know why they had been arrested. He offered not explanation
about the violence and brutal manner in which the right to protest
had been curtailed.
the WOZA fact
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