via WOZA members appear in two separate trials on the same day | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda October 2, 2013
The Magistrates’ courts in Bulawayo saw two separate trials involving members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group on Monday, with the activists calling them cases of persecution rather than prosecution.
There was drama in the ongoing trial of WOZA leader Magodonga Mahlangu in one courtroom, as two state witnesses disassociated themselves from statements that they allegedly gave to the law and order department of the police.
Mahlangu is charged with “making offensive calls without reasonable cause” to the MDC-T ward chair for Matshobana, Gladys Dube, when the two discussed some fliers that were circulating on the day of the July 31st elections, which had a forged WOZA logo on them.
Dube claims she had been falsely accused of threatening WOZA members because the fliers “de-campaigned” the MDC-T and her party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. She instead accused Mahlangu of threatening her during two separate phone calls.
WOZA leader Jenni Williams told SW Radio Africa that Mahlangu made no such threats to Dube. According to Williams Mahlangu phoned to inform Dube “to keep calm and ignore the flyer” because WOZA had nothing to do with it.
“Basically on Monday our lawyer applied for the case to be dismissed after the state made its case. This is not a legal case of any significance. It is persecution of Magodonga and of WOZA. It should be dismissed,” Williams said.
Mahlangu appeared before Magistrate CJ Mberewere after several others recused themselves from the case last month. Mberewere now has to rule on whether there is a case for her to answer.
Williams explained that the second case simply involved police ordering WOZA members to remove their clothing after they arrested 180 of the activists on Valentines Day earlier this year. Only one, Bertha Sibanda, is being charged with “public indecency” after she removed her skirt and blouse.
On Monday three defence witnesses testified before Magistrate Charity Maphosa. According to Williams, they all told the court that the instruction to remove their clothes came from the police officers. The witnesses included non-other than Magodonga Mahlangu, who had earlier appeared in her own trial.
A ruling in the Bertha Sibanda case is expected on 9th October after lawyers make their closing arguments.
Williams blasted the police for prosecuting Sibanda, saying: “She is being charged and taken to trial for something that is a very minor, trivial case. But because it’s WOZA she must face the full wrath of the justice system.”