Police raid, invade WOZA house
Press statement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
AT ELEVEN am on 10th June 2011, seven or eight men who identified
themselves as police officers arrived at the gate of a venue WOZA
members use for their internal meetings. They did not produce any
search warrant and were extremely aggressive. A lawyer for Human
Rights was immediately asked to attend the scene to demand any search
warrant and observe the processes police would undertake.
Two of the Police officers noticed at the gate were notorious
perpetrators of torture George Levison Ngwenya and Moyo from Law and
Order department of Bulawayo Central Police Station. WOZA members
present resolved to exit through the backyard and moments after Riot
police arrived and police forced the motorised gate open and gained
Shortly after this a tenant who is not a member of WOZA arrived and
was immediately beaten by police who demanded to know where the
occupants were. The lawyers, Kossam Ncube and Nosimilo Chanayiwa from
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had arrived outside the gate but
were threatened with extreme violence by police and ordered to leave.
Since Friday police officers have invaded the property and over the
weekend armed guards were observed taking in the winter sun in the
Later that afternoon, the lawyer, Mr Ncube, visited the offices of the
Law and Order Department to seek clarification about the ‘invasion’;
he was refused clarification and told to present Jennifer Williams and
the owner of the house to explain what the house was being used for.
Two privately owned vehicles are also within the yard but in this
climate of lawlessness, the owners would risk arrest if they went to
get their cars.
Since the beginning of the year, 38 WOZA members have been arbitrarily
arrested and 24 detained and charged under the Criminal Law
Codification and Reform Act. Threats were made that upon the eventual
arrest of Williams and Mahlangu, they would be denied bail and
imprisoned in the male prison. This police harassment of WOZA Human
rights Defenders provides leaders of the South African Development
Community (SADC) with direct proof of the intransigence of the Mugabe
regime and their refusal to respect the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) of which they are guarantors. This proves there is no political
will to implement respect for freedoms of assembly and expression and
end harassment of human rights defenders. The practice of persecution
and punishment by arrest, detention and prosecution in the absence of
any genuine suspicion of criminal activity needs urgent addressing
through security sector reform.
Their targeting of WOZA in this way shows their inability to deliver a
new Zimbabwe where people can live a dignified life, free to express
their views. It is because of this that the nonviolent social justice
movement remains fast expanding and has capacity to mobilise
Zimbabweans to demand full enjoyment of all their rights.
It is our view that that the raiding of our members’ private meeting
place means the regime has made the last leap from its ‘pretended
democracy’ and respect for the rule of law into the dark abyss of
authoritarianism and militarisation.”
WOZA call on SADC to immediately enforce implementation of the GPA and
protect Zimbabweans from this violent state and bring perpetrators to
WOZA call on the Joint Operation Monitoring Implementation Committee
(JOMIC) to investigate this illegal raid and force the police to leave
our premises forthwith.
WOZA call on Police Commissioner Chihuri to order his officers to
cease occupation of our premises with immediate effect and return
intact any possessions taken. And to publicly apologise to WOZA.
WOZA call on all police officers to refuse to be used to carry out
illegal acts in the name of political supremacy, we call on their
family members to prevail upon them to think carefully about their
future and personal sanity. There will be a time for their action to
be judged if not on this earth then in heaven.
WOZA call on local, regional and international human rights defenders
to directly lobby their presidents or prime ministers to put pressure
through diplomatic means to stop persecution of human rights defenders
and especially women human rights defenders. Special emphasis should
be on their rights to peacefully hold their own government to account
by direct or indirect street engagement.
WOZA call on Zimbabweans to mobilise themselves to nonviolently demand
respect for people will before it is too late. Your mothers need your
WOZA as a direct action nonviolent movement, mother of the nation will
take action, we will not be silenced.
12th June 2011
For more information, please call Jenni Williams +263 772 898 110 or
+263 712 213 885 Magodonga Mahlangu +263 772 362 668 or email
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com. Visit our website at
http://www.wozazimbabwe.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at
twitter.com/wozazimbabwe or find us on Facebook.