Friday, February 17, 2006

WOZA News 16 Feb

ISO Zimbabwe
Evening Update

Approximately 150 women remain in custody for a third night in Harare Central Police station. Police remain uncooperative with regard to taking the women to court and continue to exert pressure on them to pay admission of guilt fines. Lawyers are finalising a court application for them to be brought to court tomorrow as they are now illegally detained. One woman has been hospitalised suffering from stomach problems.

It has been problematic to obtain accurate numbers of those in custody and the following has come to light. Firstly police officers have blocked the access of lawyers to their clients. Secondly, it transpires that as women made their way to the demonstration starting point they were 'netted' by the police and council's 'Operation Valentine' and ended up in custody. Those that made it through the net to the starting point conducted the protest and were only arrested as they dispersed. Police acting on an inaccurate tip-off were at the wrong location - Causeway Post Office and had to divert to Parliament; arresting the women outside the Anglican Cathedral. It was only when the protestors got to the police station that they saw their colleagues and heard this news. As lawyers have
had limited access, this news has only come to light as women have been released.

More reports confirming the assault of women by Mhondoro and other police officers have also been received. On Wednesday evening, when Williams was delivering food in the presence of a lawyer, Officer Mhondoro indicated that he had been attempting to contact Williams to dialogue and asked her to visit his office and to come alone (i.e. without a lawyer). He gave her his mobile number +263 11 513 364. This is the same man who has routinely beat WOZA women for the last year.

One of the women released today testified that on Tuesday Mhondoro told women that Williams had been arrested on Monday in Harare and was still in custody and 'had promised to stop demonstrating in Zimbabwe' so all the women should do the same - to which there was a chorus of replies that they were not demonstrating for Williams' rights but for their own rights and would continue to do so!

Williams was in fact in custody in Bulawayo and spent over an hour being 'lectured' about how she should 'dialogue' with police officers. Legal advice is being sought about the safety of Williams to attend these 'dialogue' appointments. Consultations are also being made with the leadership of WOZA as it if they should be taken as genuine attempts to dialogue.

Meanwhile WOZA is inviting activists to send text messages to Officer Mhondoro advising him to cease assaulting innocent women. Friends wishing to offer advice can also email us on

Afternoon update
A disturbing report has been received from a WOZA woman who had been in custody but who had such bad stomach pains that she paid a fine to be released. She was taken to a doctor and en route gave the following details:
'When Williams and Mahlangu were seen bringing in food yesterday, they asked to be given the food but were told, 'you must know that this is a struggle and learn to starve'. Only some of the women were given food at 11pm last night. Today lunch was not allowed into the police station. The women were also told by police that they preferred to give water to prostitutes and vendors rather than WOZA women. Access to toilets is also being denied. Reports are also being received that several women were assaulted on Tuesday by a PISI officer, Mhondoro, who has beaten WOZA women in custody on several occasions in the past. Some were slapped with an open palm across the face; others were kicked in their sides by booted officers as they sat on the floor in detention. (Names of some of these women are available.) 38 women spent Tuesday night standing in one tiny cell. Those on ARV treatment were unable to take their medication because they were denied food. From 2 to 6pm yesterday, women were made
to sit in the hot sun just out of sheer malice, it seems. Because of these conditions and the
intimidation and pressure being applied by police officers, some women, including those pregnant and with babies, paid admission of guilt fines of $25 000 and were released. These number approximately 30. At 2 pm today police suddenly decided to raise the fine to $250 000 and lawyers are querying if this is legal. A conversation was also overhead by the woman that Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri had called to order the women to be released. A senior female officer was also said to have come to the detention room and in front of women asked the officers why the women were still in custody and demanded that they be accorded their right to be heard in a court of law or

Meanwhile WOZA leaders are pressing the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to submit a court application as the 48 hours time limit has now expired that they are legally allowed to be held.

Evening Update

Police in Harare continue to give lawyers the run-around regarding the charges against the women in custody. The Attorney General's office is alleged to have dissuaded the state from proceeding with charges under POSA; so police have switched charges to Section 7 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA) – public nuisance/disturbing the peace charges. As the government has no money to feed prisoners, WOZA has had to buy food for those arrested. The women have been denied this food all day however and at 8pm still had not been given their lunch or supper. Their strategy is to pressure the women into paying admission of guilt fines to get out of the deplorable conditions. Finally the mothers with babies were permitted to pay fines and were released, whilst the
rest look to another night in detention.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

WOZA News Update

ISO Zimbabwe
Contrary to early estimates, 181 WOZA women and male
members were arrested yesterday along with 14 babies.
They were held at Bulawayo Central and due to flooded
cells, the group were kept in a cage outside in the
courtyard with only standing room until 10.30pm in
heavy rain. Three women, Jenni Williams, Magodonga
Mahlangu and Emily Mpofu, were taken aside,
fingerprinted, made to give statements, despite their
protestations that they wanted their lawyer present,
and charged under Section 24 of the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA). The three women were taken to
court in the late morning where the prosecutor refused
to allow them to appear before court, instructing the
police to release them and proceed by way of summons.
The other 177 women and men, including babies, are
still being held at Bulawayo Central out in the open.
Lawyers are trying to secure their release.

Early reports also suggest that a WOZA march in
Harare, which took place at lunchtime today, continued
for several blocks before being broken up by police
and arrests were made. At least seven vehicles were
used to transport those arrested and a lawyer
attending at the scene was handcuffed. Lawyers are in

Further details will be given as soon as they become

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

WOZA Women Arrested

ISO Zimbabwe


Over 100 WOZA women arrested in Bulawayo today! WOZA
supporters please see end of message for how you can

Hundreds of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members and
students marched for eight blocks through central
Bulawayo today to the government offices at
Mhlanhlandlela, calling for 'bread and roses' - the
need for daily survival and the right to a dignified
life. Having completed their march, the women were
beginning to disperse when riot police arrived.
Initial reports suggest that over 100 women, including
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, and at least
two men and a 14-month old baby have been arrested.
Jenni Williams has also reportedly been separated from
the others, many of whom have been left outside in the
courtyard in torrential rain. Lawyers have been
contacted and are en route to Bulawayo Central Police

The women marched with solidarity messages from
Amnesty International chapters around the world and
during the procession, they distributed red roses,
valentine cards, and the February edition of the
newsletter, Woza Moya, which were eagerly accepted by

More details will be released when they become

If you would like to express your outrage here are some numbers to try:-

Bulawayo Central (+263-4)972515

Kembo Mohadi - Minister of Home Affairs
Phone: (+263-4)723635, 703642, 703644

Patrick Chinamasa - Minister of Justice
(+263-4) 777054 or 774620-7
Home: (+263-4) 860006
Or send him a text message on: 263 11 605 523

Vumela iWOZA ikhulume ikhululekile
Regererai WOZA ichitaura yakasungura