WOZA activists remain in custody

By Alex Bell
26 February 2009

Five activists from the pressure group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are still being kept behind bars after they were arrested during a peaceful and legal demonstration in Harare on Wednesday.

The four women and one man were part a 400 strong group that marched to the government buildings in the capital for an official meeting with the new Education Minister, David Coltart. However, the group was violently set upon by riot police, who, true to form, used brutal force to disperse the peaceful group. The five activists that were arrested were all assaulted, while another nine were treated for injuries inflicted at the hands of the riot police.

According to a WOZA statement released on Thursday, charges against the arrested group have not yet been detailed, although an investigations docket has been filed with the Law and Order department. The state now has until Friday morning to produce a charge sheet, as the 48 hours allowed by law to keep the group in custody will expire at 10:30am Friday.

Meanwhile, WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu both appeared in the Bulawayo Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on charges of ‘disturbing the peace’. The pair was arrested last October during another peaceful demonstration urging that the crippling food shortages in the country be declared a national emergency. Their case has once again been postponed to next week and it’s expected the High Court will fast track the case, resulting in the trial being forced through the system. WOZA already has a case from 2004 still waiting for a ruling in the High Court.


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