Still no bail date for WOZA leaders
By Alex Bell
The High Court is still to set down a bail hearing date for the leaders of pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), 12 days since their arrest in Bulawayo.
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are being held at Mlondolozi prison on ‘kidnapping’ and ‘theft’ charges, following their arrest during a demonstration to commemorate last month’s Peace Day.
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu
10 other WOZA women were also arrested, but only held overnight on ‘criminal nuisance’ charges. Williams and Mahlangu on the other hand have been remanded in custody. An urgent application for their bail was filed a week ago. But the High Court has not set down a date for the hearing, which WOZA has said is a “denial of justice.”
The two women have denied the charges, which date back to earlier this year when they had gone to retrieve goods stolen from WOZA’s offices. The pair is being accused of ‘kidnapping’ a woman and holding her against her will for several hours. This same woman had willingly accompanied the WOZA leaders to find the stolen property.
The state meanwhile is opposing bail on the grounds that the two have been “avoiding” arrest and hiding from the police, despite both the women living openly in Bulawayo.
According to a WOZA statement the affidavit supporting the state’s position is signed by Detective Sergeant Ngwenya from the Law and Order Department, who states that he had been attempting to arrest the two on these charges for some time.
WOZA said the arrest and ‘spurious’ charges are all meant to “harass the WOZA leadership and frustrate the activities of a movement which is peacefully promoting democracy and social justice.” Another reason given for opposing bail is that the two have pending charges relating to unlawful
demonstrations, blocking the pavement and failing to inform the regulating authority. These charges have however been made irrelevant by a ruling obtained by WOZA from the Supreme Court in 2010 saying that WOZA’s peaceful demonstrations are indeed lawful.
WOZA is meanwhile urging supporters to phone Mlondolozi prison to urge the authorities not to abuse the rights of the two women.
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