Williams and Mahlangu finally released on bail (10-06-07)

WOZA members, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu,
finally were taken to court this morning at 8.30am,
although they had to wait until 11am to see a
magistrate. They were released on bail of $100,000
each and were remanded to 18 June. They have been
charged under Sections 37 (1a)


and 46 (2v) of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.


Chapter 37 – ‘participating in gathering with intent
to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or
bigotry’. Section (1a) reads “any person who acts
together with one or more other persons present with
him or her in any place or at any meeting with the
intention or realising that there is a real risk or
possibility of forcibly disturbing the peace, security
or order of the public or any section of the public.”


Alternatively, Chapter 46, as read with Section 2(v)
of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Code, reads
“employs any means whatsoever which are likely
materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort,
convenience, peace or quiet of the public or any
section of the public, or does any act which is likely
to create a nuisance or obstruction”.


Their lawyer, Kossam Ncube, also took the opportunity
to serve notice on the State that he will file a
constitutional challenge to these charges on 18 June.
His argument is that the wording is too vague and
meaningless, thereby rendering them ineffective and a
waste of time.


Police maintain that Williams and Mahlangu threatened
the security of the police station by their actions
and disturbed the peace. The police also allege that
Williams and Mahlangu refuse to disperse with the
others and so were arrested.


In actual fact, when the activists arrived at the
police station they were asked to line up, which they
did. Two officers then came up and dragged Williams
into the station by her hands. As Mahlangu was in
front of Williams, she too was dragged in. As the two
were being dragged in, riot police indiscriminately
beat those peacefully lined up causing serious
injuries to many. Police officers were observed
taking video footage of these events, which can only
corroborate the violence unleashed on the peaceful
activists if it will be shown in court.


Williams was also served with two summonses to appear
in court on 23 July and 2 August for arrests in 2004.


Both women are in good spirits but bearing the effects
of spending three nights in cold, wet conditions. Both
will require medical attention.


As mentioned yesterday, one member, Alice Banda, has
been operated on this afternoon. She had not been
arrested but was hit by riot police on Wednesday, fell
to the ground and then kicked in the abdomen with
booted feet. Whilst she was on the ground, members
fleeing from being beaten trampled on her. She
received specialist treatment yesterday afternoon
where doctors have discovered a lump. She underwent
exploratory surgery this afternoon where doctors
removed excess blood. She is now out of surgery and in
post-op treatment. We are currently awaiting an update
from the doctor.
It also transpires that two members were beaten in the
charge office at Bulawayo Central. (See attached
photo) Both were assaulted with baton sticks and one
woman was prodded in her private parts with a baton
stick by a male officer.


WOZA is thankful for the safe return of all seven
activists who were arrested and praises the courage
and determination of all its members who braved
beatings and humiliation to stand up and make their
voices heard at this crucial time in our country’s
history. Having heard first-hand the passion and
intensity with which people outlined their vision of a
new Zimbabwe, which was captured in the People’s
Charter, WOZA is determined not to let them down and
to amplify their voices and their dreams.


Many police officers also complained to the activists
that they should have gone directly to President Thabo
Mbeki rather than to protest in the streets of
Bulawayo. WOZA is giving their ‘advise’ serious
thought!


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News update
Friday 8th June – 9pm


Williams and Mahlangu spend third night in custody
Two WOZA members, arrested on Wednesday, are spending
a third night in custody. They are expected to appear
in court tomorrow morning at 9am. It is believed that
they are also being charged under Section 46 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) as read with
Section 2 (v) of the schedule to the Criminal Code –
‘interfering with the ordinary comfort, convenience,
peace or quiet of the public or creating a nuisance or
obstruction’, the same as the other activists.


They were allowed food at dinnertime with no
interference and the members who took in the food
report that they are in good spirits. WOZA activists
will maintain a vigil outside Bulawayo Central Police
Station through the night to ensure that they come to
no harm however.


The five members who were released today at lunchtime
received medical treatment for their injuries, mostly
soft tissue bruising. One member related how she was
beaten with baton sticks by several police officers,
including across the breasts. She is in severe pain
and doctors are worried that some of the lesions may
form into abscesses. Another member, who was not
arrested, needed to receive specialist treatment this
afternoon and will need to have an operation tomorrow.
She was kicked in the groin by booted police officers
on Wednesday and is bleeding heavily.


With the release of the women, we have been able to
learn much more about conditions in the cells. The
women related how officers threw bucket loads of water
into the cells every day, forcing them to spend the
entire time on wet concrete. In the middle of a cold
Bulawayo winter, the group of seven was also only
given two blankets in total. As a result, many of the
women are suffering from cold symptoms.


The group of seven was also kept in a cell by
themselves, away from the other women prisoners. It is
suspected that this was to prevent the WOZA activists
from teaching their fellow detainees about their
rights and recruiting them to join the nonviolent
struggle for social justice in Zimbabwe! It is
believed that Williams and Mahlangu are currently
being held in a cell with other women however.


News update
Friday 8th June – 2.30pm


Williams and Mahlangu still detained; police applying
for warrant of further detention
There is still extreme concern for the well being of
Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. They are still
being detained without charge and police are planning
to apply for a warrant of further detention. Lawyers
are being told that they will be taken to court
tomorrow.


However as Law and Order officers have directly
threatened these two, telling them that they will be
taken to Harare and detained and tortured, WOZA does
not believe that their safety can be maintained during
those 24 hours. We also believe that it is just a
tactic to keep them in custody until Monday


The other five members were released at lunchtime.
They were taken to court but did not appear before the
magistrate. Police were instructed to proceed by way
of summons.


News update
Friday 8th June – 10.30am


URGENT APPEAL – CONCERN FOR MAHLANGU AND WILLIAMS


Five of the seven WOZA members being held at Bulawayo
Central Police Station have finally been charged.
These members had been arrested at the demonstration
and have been charged under Section 46 of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) as read with Section
2(v) of the schedule to the Criminal Code – ‘employs
any means whatsoever which are likely materially to
interfere with the ordinary comfort, convenience,
peace or quiet of the public or any section of the
public, or does any act which is likely to create a
nuisance or obstruction’. They are currently being
taken to court.


Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who handed
themselves in to the police station in solidarity,
have not yet been fingerprinted or had their
statements taken. Police are refusing to allow the
lawyers access to them. It is also not clear what
these two will be charged with. There is concern that
police may try to detain these two further or take
this opportunity to carry out their death threats on
the two WOZA activists. Lawyers are making an urgent
high court application for their release.


Please keep calling Bulawayo Central Police Station on
+263 9 72515 / 61706 to demand that Williams and
Mahlangu be released immediately and not be harmed.




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