WOZA concerned over leaders’ detention

September 27, 2011 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

By Alex Bell

Pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has raised concern about the
ongoing detention of its leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who
were arrested on International Peace Day last week.

The pair is being held at the notorious Mlondolozi Prison on charges of
‘kidnapping’ and ‘theft’, which WOZA have said are “malicious” and
“spurious” allegations.

Last week 12 WOZA members were arrested during a march in Bulawayo, which
had been organised to commemorate the International Day of Peace. Riot
police were dispatched to break up the march, beating several people in the
process. 10 of the WOZA women appeared in court last Thursday on ‘criminal
nuisance’ charges, but the prosecutor refused to bring a case against them
and they were released.

Williams and Mahlangu however were charged separately and have been remanded
in custody until 6th October. Lawyer Kossam Ncube told SW Radio Africa that
a bail application has been filed in the High Court, and they are expecting
to hear from the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday about a bail decision.

“Chances are that bail will be denied,” Ncube said, explaining that the
Attorney General’s office last week had instructed the Magistrates Court to
deny the WOZA leaders bail.

Ncube also explained that the ‘kidnapping’ and ‘theft’ charges are related
to an incident in July, when WOZA had experienced a number of thefts at
their offices. WOZA meanwhile said in a statement that the incident is being
“used by the police to lay charges without any investigation of the true
facts of the matter or genuine suspicion of guilt, merely to punish the WOZA
leaders.”

“Officer George Levison Ngwenya of the Bulawayo Central Law and Order
department, who has been previously named and shamed by WOZA for his brutal
handling of arrested WOZA members, may be using these spurious allegations
as his way of getting even. Having failed in the past to secure convictions
of WOZA members on charges related to activities in defense of human rights,
he may now have devised a new strategy of seeking to pin common criminal
charges on the women,” WOZA said.

The WOZA statement also raised concerns about how the two women will be
treated in Mlondolozi, warning that “the last time that they were detained
in the prison in 2008 they were subjected to abuse at the hands of the
prison authorities.”

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