Baton-Wielding Police Officers Beat Up WOZA

Baton-Wielding Police Officers Beat Up  WOZA

BULAWAYO - Baton-wielding police officers in the second biggest city of Bulawayo on Saturday turned a part of the Bulawayo city centre into a mini-battlefield, as they fought running battles with members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) civic group, who were holding a peaceful demonstration against the government's failure to better people's lives.


The police actionanyone that tried to walk through the intersection of 9th Avenue and Jason Moyo Street, after the lawmen had broken a peaceful demonstration by

Political campaigning has been concentrated in Matabeleland, Southern Zimbabwe in the past couple of weeks and this naturally meant that I had to be in and around Bulawayo for a while.

On Saturday morning, I passed through the Bulawayo city centre on my way to White City, where Presidential aspirant “Morgan Tsvangirai” of the opposition MDC had a star rally.

Upon my arrival in the city centre, lo and behold!

Everyone was running all over the place, screaming as if the city had been invaded by a Godzilla.

I quickly rushed down 9th Avenue towards one of the city’s biggest and busiest supermarkets, where the noise was coming from, and that later proved to be a big mistake. Baton-wielding police officers were busy doing what they are now notorious for, while men and boys were running and women and children screaming.

As I neared the supermarket’s entrance, I could make out the lone figure of Jenni Williams, a co-leader of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) civic group, in a police truck, bravely waving to the crowd as the truck disappeared.

I knew that they would lock him up in the cells for at least a week and she would be lucky to come out of there soon and without having been tortured and starved. After, all she is white and according to Mugabe, “an imperialist force” trying to re-colonise Zimbabwe.

As I got to corner 9th Avenue and Jason Moyo Street, I could not believe my eyes. An elderly woman was screaming and kicking, while a crowd of startled women and children stampeded over her as they scurried for cover from the police, who seemed more determined to spill blood.

As the stampede cleared and the woman, looking to be 65, tried to get back to his feet, the police officers landed on her with their batons like vultures on a kill. She screamed until she could scream no more. They handcuffed and led her to the nearby Bulawayo central police station.

Eager to know what had caused all this anger, I asked a man nearby and he told me this, “The WOZA women were having a peaceful demonstration against government’s failure to better people’s lives.”

I turned to a nearby senior policeman for his opinion and he only substituted the word “peaceful” for unlawful” and turned away.

I picked up one pamphlet which the women were distributing and it read, in part “STAND UP FOR YOUR CHILD. The March election is a chance to choose leaders that will help us build a better future for our children…. We should not be confused by any more empty promises. We know what is best for our families – affordable food, a good education for your children and a safe environment…. The current situation is not free or fair, but we can protest oppression by voting in large numbers. Make your choice, cast your vote, register your protest.

Bang!

I saw darkness before stars and quickly made the pain of a policeman’s baton on my head and ran for dear life within a second. The second blow landed on my back as I ran through a queue of cash-awaiting clients who were queuing at a nearby bank, which had also been broken by the angry policemen, who were now striking at anything that moved near them. I can still feel the pain as I write this, and I know who the cops were trying to protect.

A handful of WOZA demonstrattors were arrested and detained at Bulawayo Central police station, but I could not quickly ascertain who and how many they were.

 

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