WOZA: Members arrested, beaten and dumped in a cemetery
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Members arrested, beaten and 11 dumped in a cemetery out of down
WATER shortage protests continued in Bulawayo with 57 members arrested and
beaten. The first edition of the protest began at 11am targeting the Council
administration Tower block. A squad of 4 Riot Police disrupted the peaceful
protest and surrounded 35 members. After 15 minutes senior police officers,
one identified as the Controller, arrived and engaged the group announcing
that he was ‘driving them off’. He was semi professional and no one was
beaten or taken them into custody.
As midday struck 5 additional protests began separately all intending to
converge on the Government complex.
The first protest reached the Mhlahlandlela complex but a green truck
carrying the reaction squad with 12 Riot Police. They quickly arrested
11 members, 9 women and 2 men and took them across the road to the Drill
Hall, placing them under guard at 12:15.
The same vehicle then drove to the intersection H. Chitepo Street and 10th
Avenue. The police officers disembarked to beat members were marching
towards the complex. They indiscriminately beat even passes by. As they beat
people these officers loudly shouted insults and violently beat anyone in
their path. They shouted tribal and gender obscenities referring to the
Ndebele people and calling the women prostitutes.
The second 11 were then arrested by the same squad, one referred to as
Mukoshi who said he did not care if the activists knew his name. He also
said with great support and approving laughter from his colleague, ‘this
country was liberated by blood and only those who spilt blood can be the
ones to talk.’ He went on to ask them to answer his question in the Shona
language – Do they have their own dams, why are they asking for water.
The 11 were then forced to sit in the truck and driven to Bulawayo Central.
When they got there and as they were disembarking, Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights chief law officer was present. The officer
commanding Bulawayo Chief Inspector Rangwani arrived and shouted at the
officers asking them what they had brought these women to the police
station. He said take them back to where you got them. The driver of the
police truck in the hearing of Lizwe Jamela said he would not take them back
to Drill Hall but would drive them into the bush and dump them. He promptly
drove away toward Victoria Falls with the lawyer in pursuit dumping them at
a cemetery out of town. Four members are being seen by the doctor and many
others are being attended by the WOZA medical support triage.
The first 11 members arrested have also since been released so no members
are left in custody at this time.
WOZA have argued that there is a tribal element of the manner in which
police in Bulawayo treat WOZA members and this has today been further
confirmed by the insults of all the Riot Officers. The women were called
prostitutes and told not to speak to each other in the Ndebele language as
the Ndebele people were all killed off by Gukurahundi in the 1980s.
See the list of demands here –