WOZA Slams Police Intimidation As Another Member Arrested
Pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has slammed what it calls a “disturbing trend” of police intimidation in Bulawayo, after the arrest of another member on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning saw a group of more than fifty WOZA members march together to the Bulawayo offices of the Joint Operating and Monitoring Committee (JOMIC) to deliver letters of complaint about their treatment at the hands of the police. This followed the indiscriminate arrest of WOZA’s leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu last week.
The pair was arrested after riot police were called in to disrupt a peaceful protest. They were detained at the Bulawayo Central Police Station for the afternoon before being released without charge. Their letter of complaint now threatens to make a ‘citizen’s arrest’ of any riot police officers who violate their commitments by disrupting peaceful protests.
Williams and Mahlangu had attempted to deliver this letter to the Police General Headquarters in Southampton House on Tuesday morning, but officials there refused to accept it. They were then joined by their members to march to JOMIC, who advised them to deliver their letter to the Ross Camp police station.
Mahlangu told SW Radio Africa that when they arrived there, only she and her co-leader Williams were allowed into the building. Once again their attempt to lodge an official complaint was in vain when an official referred the activists back to Southampton House.
It was when they were leaving that WOZA member Christine Ndlovu was arrested by the police officer manning the gate, on allegations that she had trespassed. By Tuesday evening, Ndlovu remained in police custody.
“Her arrest was facilitated by notorious Law and Order Detective Sergeant George Levison Ngwenya, who has been responsible for the torture and harassment of our members. This is why we are saying this is intimidation and harassment and it is a disturbing trend in Bulawayo,” Mahlangu said.
She added that she believes this is a “tribal issue,” because this worsening situation is only happening in Bulawayo and not in Harare. She added that the police in Bulawayo are becoming increasingly aggressive and have threatened to beat and kill the WOZA members.