|WOZA leaders on the run while 83 activists arrested in Bulawayo
By Violet Gonda
19 April 2006
At least 83 activists were arrested in Bulawayo on Thursday when the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise and Men of Zimbabwe Arise held sit-ins in eight local offices of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. At the time of broadcast WOZA leaders Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were in a car chase with law and order police who wanted to arrest them.
Speaking on the phone Mahlangu said they were trying to deliver food to some of the activists who are detained at Harare Central Police Station when the police cornered them. She said: “They (police) said we should follow them into the Central. They are now chasing us because we drove away from them and we are on the run. As I speak now you can hear the car. They are behind us.”
As if it was from a scene from a movie, Williams could be heard screaming and shouting at someone in the background while Mahlangu hurriedly explained: “She is driving and I am talking to you although I am supposed to be the navigator! I am supposed to see what is happening behind that’s why I was trying not to talk to you but you insisted. So we might be arrested while talking to you.”
She added: “We don’t know where we are headed but we are getting the hell out of here. We are trying to lose these guys.”
Mahlangu alleged police Officers George Ngwenya and Tshuma from Bulawayo Law and Order Section were behind this vicious campaign.
WOZA reports that at least 9 of the 83 members arrested and taken to Tshabalala police station were brutalised. They are all still in police custody. Some of those arrested are being held at Bulawayo Central and Luveve Police Stations.
We could not get a comment from the police.
The WOZA activists had successfully delivered their protest messages to officials at the ZESA offices asking for a better service delivery. They had held simultaneous sit-ins in ZESA offices in Pumula, Mpopoma, Entumbane, Old Lobengula, Magwegwe, Nkulumane, Nketa 6 and Luveve.
The power utility, which has been crippled by a shortage of foreign currency, plus corruption and mismanagement has failed to provide proper services for consumers throughout the country. This had led WOZA members in Bulawayo embarking on community based demonstrations demand ‘power to the people’ at the ZESA offices.