And the Women in Zimbabwe need all the support they can get…..

September 18, 2012

The Press statement below was issued by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and shows the need for the continued attention and support from the UN as well as NGOs:

AT noon on 12th September 300 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) were prevented from conducting a peaceful protest to The
Chronicle in Bulawayo. Three small groups that managed to arrive at
the Chronicle but were quickly dispersed by Riot Police with raised
baton sticks. In 5 parts of the Central business district Riot Police
were standing in groups of 4 carrying baton sticks and obviously ready
to stop the protests as they began.

A block away, WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams was standing
alone when 4 police officers surrounded her. One of these police
officers had arrested Williams on 21 September 2011 while shopping in
an Electrical shop. On that day, 30 minutes previously he had also
arrested Magodonga Mahlangu. Both activists were then charged with
Kidnap and Theft, charges that are still being prosecuted in 2012.

On the 12 September, he once again refused to give his name but asked,
“Jennifer what are you planning here?”  To which Williams replied,
“What are you doing here beating people?” The other police officers
then started to lecture Williams on the need for WOZA to notify police
before any protest. A legal argument ensured. One the officers then
announced that the Officer Commanding of Bulawayo, Central Assistant
chief Inspector Rangwani wanted to see Williams. The police officers
then escort her to the station on foot.

As they began to walk, Magodonga Mahlangu arrived and asked Williams
what was happening. It was at this point that a further legal argument
ensued. Williams advised Mahlangu that it seemed she was under arrest.
The officers said she was not but then refused to allow her to go and
reschedule the meeting with the chief Inspector.

As the two arrived at the police station, eight members entered the
station in solidarity bringing the number ‘arrested’ to 10. They were
taken to the chief inspector Rangwani’s office and they were told he
would be arriving shortly. Lawyers were deployed to represent the
activists but were denied access. A two and a half hour circus then
ensued with the activists being told they were being charged but some
officers refusing to charge them, mentioning the letter of complaint
filed the week before. The arresting officers then stage-managed the
separation of Williams and Mahlangu from the other 8. The 8 and other
activists outside were rounded up by a Riot squad and force marched to
the bus terminus.

The WOZA leaders who were now back in the OC Rangwani office were
still unable to access their lawyers. Finally two senior officers
seated themselves in the OC chair and surprisingly asked the two if
they had wanted a meeting with the OC. Williams then asked the
whereabouts of OC Rangwani, the officers admitted he was on leave. The
WOZA leaders then stood up and said, ‘as we are told we are not
formally under arrest we are now leaving and will be submitting a
further letter of complaint.” Williams then left her phone number for
a meeting to be scheduled and the two activists walked out of the
police station.

WOZA wish to draw attention to the disparate police response between
the police at Parliament in Harare and the Bulawayo police. On 12
September it was obvious that the WOZA leaders were arrested to
prevent their exercising their right to protest. This right is
provided by constitutional law buttressed by Supreme Court ruling of
2010 after legal action taken by Williams and Mahlangu. ‘Once again
police in Bulawayo have acted overzealously and acted to discriminate
against WOZA members from Bulawayo which is regional and tribal
discrimination.

See the complaint against the police at
http://wozazimbabwe.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/WOZA-complain-of-police-harrasment-ZRP-Jomic.pdf

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