1,000 women meet

By Jenni Williams

About 1,000 women of WOZA met in Harare and Bulawayo last week to reflect on their vigil of March 31, 2005 - election night – when hundreds were beaten, trampled and imprisoned by the police. The prayer sessions were convened to allow members to pray for healing and


share their testimonies. The gatherings were undisturbed by police. The leadership of WOZA would like to pay tribute to the women for the courage shown that election night and for keeping their sisterhood bond. A year later, we recognise that there is a dire need for WOZA women to receive counselling. Many tears were shed and many emotions felt as sharply as if the experiences were from yesterday not last year. One of the women testified that she had spent a month in hospital undergoing ear and eye surgery after being injured by police brutality, but was now fully recovered and able to work again. She thanked her WOZA sisters for standing by her throughout her ordeal.


WOZA sisterhood bond
I give my word that I will strive to stand up in support of my sisters. I will give ‘her’ my hand in support as we struggle together towards our rightful place as equals in society. Working together, hand in hand, we shall bring Zimbabwe back to peace, justice and prosperity. As the struggle continues, I will remember the following guidelines:
1. To speak out and encourage other women to do the same, so that the female voice is heard. Women should no longer suffer silently.
2. To participate in peaceful assembly and meetings to discuss our challenges and to act rather than complain.
3. To be a comfortable shoulder to lean on or a listening ear. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’.
4. To demonstrate love and courage in our homes and communities so that people can shake away fear.
5. Women are the mothers of the nation and must demand that Dignity.
6. I agree to be disciplined if I endanger the lives of my sisters in any way.
7. To be a supporter of Non-violence so that people can see that problems can be solved peacefully.
8. To seek out and be in solidarity with like-minded women.
9. To be God fearing and encourage activities that promote spiritual health.
10.To support Democratic participation with tolerance for differing views and opinions.
11.”An injury to one is an injury to all”.


Testimonies


“I was arrested on 31 March at Africa Unity Square. I arrived there and saw police standing holding batons. I sat down with other WOZA women. When I was about to jump into the Santana, one of the officers beat me with a baton. I jumped inside because of the pain. She is called Constable Musiwa. At the police station, Musiwa beat me again. After a while when I wanted to go to the toilet one of the police women said, “I want to eat – you are disturbing me”. She was slim, tall, light in complexion wearing navy blue trousers and a grey shirt, maybe about 24 years of age. I slept seated the whole night at the courtyard without any treatment or medication.” – Eva of Emakhandeni born in 1952, unemployed.

“A police officer said: “You WOZA ladies are giving us problems – now I am working overtime because of you.” He started beating us and I was beaten once on my lower back with a baton stick. I was also kicked on my left foot near the ankle. Then the same officers told us to stand up and walk into the Square, were I saw a female officer and WOZA women kneeling facing down. We were told to do the same and we did. Her name was Musiwa, she was short and slim around mid 20’s. I saw her the next morning as she was writing our fines and got her name. She picked me out to stand up and asked me why I came to Harare. I was then told to lie down by a short, slim police officer, He gave me another six stokes on my thighs. I saw this same baton broken on one of my colleagues later. I was seriously injured and could not walk properly. When I went to give my detail to Musiwa to process my fine, she refused saying I was crying. When I was released I was hospitalised for five days but remained having physiotherapy three times a week for over two weeks.” – Brenda of Pumula, 17 yrs old.


“We were at the Railway station when police officers invaded and started to beat us. They firstly ordered us to lie down on our stomachs on the wet pavement outside the station. They then started to beat us with baton sticks asking us what we were doing in Harare. One baton stick even broke. They said we should stay in Bulawayo and said ‘Kusina mai akuendwi’ meaning we have no mother in Harare so we should not go there! They said they would teach us a lesson so that we will never come to Harare again. I was beaten on my bottom and back seven times along with other women, some of them grandmothers. We were then ordered to run to the Central Police station where we found over 200 of our colleagues – most had also been beaten. I could not sit down properly for more than two weeks and even now one year later, I still feel pain when it is cold.” – NS


“I was arrested with the starting group at Africa Unity Square shortly after 7 pm. The police officers requested vehicles and we were taken to Harare Central Police station and made to sit in a veranda near the car park. Truckloads of women kept coming. Women were beaten, pushed and kicked as they disembarked from the police vehicles. They kept trying to count us but more and more women kept arriving. Eventually they gave up and told us to stay there in the open. We were very crowded and had to sit between each others legs to fit. We spent the whole night seated. Lawyers came but they were denied access to us. Food and medication came and they refused to let us have it.” – Magodonga Mahlangu

Information is power
DEATH OF A HERO - JAMES CHIKEREMA 1925-2006

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