Police detain 3 WOZA members demanding to see Jenni Williams

By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 October 2007

Police Officers from Harare Central Law and Order Division briefly detained 3 members from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) at a restaurant in Harare, saying they wanted WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams to surrender herself to Harare Central Police station. The 3 women, Clara Manjengwa, Lilian Nketula and Kesina Munda, were interrogated for about 2 hours outside on the pavement. The police accused them of taking part in WOZA demonstrations on Monday, and planning more protests in the future.

Williams said she refused to turn herself in and wondered why the police did not deal with whatever the issue is on Monday, when she was in custody at Harare Central all day. According to Williams, the 3 WOZA members were ordered to walk to the police station with the officers. Just outside Harare Central the officers asked for Z$5 million from each member. The women refused and insisted on being charged if they had committed any crime. They were released without charge.

Williams said the police have been abducting WOZA members and asking for bribes. This has become a way for them to raise money to line their own pockets. The WOZA leader described how many ordinary Zimbabweans, especially vendors, are being forced to pay bribes by corrupt police officials. She added: “But the ordinary people have no platform to voice their anger about this. So we speak on their behalf.”

WOZA and MOZA members were released without charge Monday after being arrested for staging a peaceful demonstration that was blocked by the police. They had intended to march to the parliament building to handover a report on political violence against WOZA activists. During their detention Monday, Williams said they were denied access to lawyers and to food that was brought in for them. She said: “We know police are starving, so I am sure a lot of home cooked food was enjoyed by the officers on Monday.”

 

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