WOZA protestors beaten by police in Bulawayo
By Violet Gonda
22 September 2009
Scores of activists from the pressure group Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) were brutally assaulted by riot police, during demonstrations to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Peace in Bulawayo on Tuesday. One of the WOZA leaders, Magodonga Mahlangu, said their theme was that social justice brings peace of mind and they were trying to highlight what they see as ‘empty promises’ by the inclusive government. She said the police were vicious in their response.
The group held similar peaceful demonstrations in Harare on Monday but were not attacked by the police.
In Bulawayo, the activists sang songs on their way to the government buildings and held placards saying: ‘Its time to expose this false peace’ and ‘Lord, hear our cries’. But the songs were silenced as riot police swooped, beating women and men alike, to stop them from reaching their target at Mhlahlandlela government complex.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa Mahlangu said over 20 of their members had to seek medical treatment after the police beatings.
A statement from the group said: “20 year old Prisca Dube, chased by riot police into a pile of broken glass, had to continue running, leaving a trail of blood behind in the street. Her bloody slipper and four stitches to the sole of her foot are proof of the false peace in Zimbabwe. 30-year old Frances Vale had to be driven to hospital as he was unable to walk after being beaten by four riot police at the same time; he has a fracture to his arm and doctors are still waiting to check his leg and lower back. Nomuhle has a sprained ankle after a police officer stood on her foot. Twenty other members are also seeking medical treatment at this time for the brutal beatings they received at the hands of police.”
It is reported some men were so incensed with the way the police were treating the activists that they tried to mobilise people to beat the police in retaliation. But WOZA said it discouraged this, telling the group: “We are non-violent activists and any history should write that the people who disturbed the peace with violence were Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, not peaceful human rights defenders.”
In Harare on Monday, at least 1000 people participated in the demonstrations calling for social justice in Zimbabwe. WOZA said over
1,300 peace activists participated in the Bulawayo march.