via WOZA leaders arrested for second time in two days | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Friday, September 20, 2013
Leaders of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were on Friday arrested for the second time in two days, during another peaceful demonstration.
Friday’s demonstration took place in Bulawayo, where scores of WOZA members gathered outside the offices of the Chronicle newspaper to commemorate International Peace Day. The WOZA demonstrators sang songs and waved placards, and also presented a list of service delivery demands to the new government.
But the peaceful gathering soon became the target of riot police who tried to force the demonstrators to disperse. When they refused, police officers specifically targeted WOZA leader Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu with arrest.
The pair was transported to Bulawayo Central Police Station, where the other WOZA supporters soon gathered to show solidarity. It is understood that police then used force to disperse the group.
Williams and Mahlangu were released shortly afterwards without charge.
The pair was also arrested on Thursday in Harare, where a similar demonstration was targeted by the police who claimed the WOZA protest was ‘unsanctioned’. Mahlangu was reportedly beaten when police descended on the demonstrators and arrested her and Williams.
A third WOZA member, Taurai Nyamanhindi was also arrested together with freelance journalist Tawanda Karombo, who was detained for taking pictures.
All four were eventually released on Thursday evening.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) meanwhile has accused the new government of breaching the constitution.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police on Thursday defied the country’s new constitution by breaking up a demonstration organised by the WOZA and banned a peace march organized by MDC-T youths to commemorate International Peace Day. Zimbabwe’s new Constitution guarantees freedom to demonstrate and petition alongside freedom of assembly and association,” the ZLHR said in a statement.
The police banned the MDC-T youths from staging a march to commemorate the International Day of Peace which is marked worldwide on 21st September. MDC-T youth leader Solomon Madzore had notified the police through a letter of his party’s planned peace march scheduled for Friday.
But in response to Madzore’s letter, the police turned down the notification claiming that the ‘environment’ is not conducive for such commemorations, which the ZLHR said is “another kick in the teeth of the country’s new Constitution.”