khulumani-header-transparentkhulumani-color-logo-transparent

  • Written by  www.thezimbabwetimes.com
  • Published in In the News
  • Read 2510 times

Arrested WOZA members still in detention

Woza MarchTen people, who include members of a Zimbabwean pressure group and a privately-owned radio station, were still detained at a police station in Bulawayo Monday afternoon, after they were arrested in the city during a Valentine's Day march Saturday.

“The demonstrations and the chaotic and violent dispersal were witnessed by three South African observers from civic society – Precious Myeza from South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), Sakina Mohamed from the South African Council of Churches and Bunie Matlanyane Sexwale from Khulumani Support Group as part of the Save Zimbabwe Now Coalition.

WOZA MarchTen people, who include members of a Zimbabwean pressure group and a privately-owned radio station, were still detained at a police station in Bulawayo Monday afternoon, after they were arrested in the city during a Valentine's Day march Saturday.

Allegations were made that members of staff at the Chronicle newspapers in Bulawayo had pointed out WOZA members to the police who immediately arrested them.

The 10, who include seven members of the Bulawayo-based pressure group - Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and three members of Radio Dialogue, a privately-owned radio station also based in the same city, had still not been charged Monday afternoon, more than 48 hours after their arrest, according to a statement released by WOZA Monday afternoon.

WOZA said that the 10 were still being denied legal representation, as police have, since Saturday, turned away their defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, who had since launched a High Court Appeal to be granted access to his clients.

“The defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, has tried to gain access since their arrest but has been unable to secure an audience with his clients,” said WOZA.

“An urgent application to the High Court for the group to be allowed access to their legal representation has been drafted and is due for submission immediately after lunch.”

The organization said that after some “interactions” with the police at the station, it had learnt that dockets were still not complete, amid allegations of a disagreement as to the way to proceed on what charges should be laid against the 10.

”Charges being discussed are Section 37 1 b of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry' and displaying placards with obscene messages. Most of the messages on placards mentioned the need for quality education and for children to go to school,” said WOZA.

”One of the members had left her baby at home and as the family did not have foreign currency to buy milk for the child, they brought the baby to the police station to be breast-fed. A police officer asked the support team to make sure the baby did not spend the night in the cells and detention room are ‘very dirty even for us'.”

They were arrested Saturday, as police violently broke up a peaceful march they were holding to commemorate Valentine's Day.

According to an earlier statement released by the Bulawayo-based organization Saturday evening, the 10, who were part of about 800 marchers that took to the streets Saturday morning, were still held by the police at about 5pm that day, and were being denied legal representation, as lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were allegedly turned away four times by the police.

WOZA identified some of those arrested as Praise Mlangeni, Barbara Bepe, Patience Mpofu, Shingirai Mupani and Gladys Dube.

The militant organization also accused the police of having randomly beaten up people in their bid to stop the demonstrations, during which the marchers were distributing fliers and roses, while also singing love songs.

WOZA also accused staff from a Bulawayo-based, government-controlled daily newspaper - The Chronicle, of assisting the police to identify some of its members for the arrests.

“Chronicle staff members were also seen to be pointing out WOZA members who had delivered Valentine's cards and roses to their offices to the police, leading to their arrest,” said WOZA.

“The demonstrations and the chaotic and violent dispersal were witnessed by three South African observers from civic society – Precious Myeza from South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), Sakina Mohamed from the South African Council of Churches and Bunie Matlanyane Sexwale from Khulumani Support Group as part of the Save Zimbabwe Now Coalition.

“All were present to provide solidarity with WOZA members today as it was strongly suspected that police would react oppressively as there is little doubt in the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans that the unity government has not changed anything on the ground.”

According to WOZA, the marchers' aim was to urge Zimbabweans to “let love light the way” on Valentines Day.

“Today's (Saturday) demonstration also marks the first public action in Bulawayo of the new WOZA campaign - Take the Step, which is designed to encourage Zimbabweans to continue with the civic participation that they demonstrated in March 2008.”

Coming at the dawn of a new unity government between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU (PF) and the opposition MDC, WOZA described the arrests of its members between Tuesday and Saturday, that of opposition official Roy Bennett, and the continued incarceration of civil rights workers and other opposition officials, as an indication that the new unity government would fail.

“The events in Bulawayo today (Saturday), together with the arrest of the 10 people after Tuesday's protest, the arrest of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett on the day of the swearing in of Ministers and the continued incarceration of Jestina Mukoko and other abductees despite court orders instructing their release, are further evidence however that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe.

“More than ever Zimbabweans need to remain vigilant and participate in defending their rights and freedoms against a regime determined to cling to power despite the platitudes they mouth that they are prepared to share power.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow us on Facebook

@KhulumaniAfrica

Khulumani (KSG)
Thu Jun 22 07:22:03 +0000 2017

I posted a new photo to Facebook https://t.co/g3C3o9kONW
Khulumani (KSG)
Wed Jun 21 08:35:28 +0000 2017

From Charles: As we commemorate 30 years since the passing away of Cde Jonas Mbasi Maseko. Cde Mbasi Made was a... https://t.co/HyQ4e8eFRH
Khulumani (KSG)
Mon Jun 19 08:12:31 +0000 2017

SOWETAN newspaper is publishing a follow-on story about the Kubeka family whose brother Alpheus left Soweto in... https://t.co/XQDMiA0tLP
Khulumani (KSG)
Mon Jun 19 07:25:41 +0000 2017

Khulumani facilitates the crafting of a submission to Parliament from the indigenous Cobuqua community of the... https://t.co/jsSVUj5PQH