WOZA members beaten in Bulawayo today

WOZA members beaten in Bulawayo today; at least 11 arrested - concern for
their whereabouts.

Members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise took to the streets of Bulawayo

today to call for an end to the politically motivated violence that has left

more than 20 people dead in the last few weeks. The protest is also part of

WOZA’s participation in the ‘make your vote count’ campaign. Ironically the

peaceful protestors were met with brutal violence by the Zimbabwe Republic

Police (ZRP). At least 59 have needed to seek medical attention for injuries

caused by baton sticks or being hit by a police vehicle.

The demonstrators had planned to deliver a demand to the High Court that the

Chief Election Officer declare Morgan Tsvangirai as president, as the

candidate that secured the greatest number of votes, rather than hold a

run-off which would only result in more violence.

The group of several hundred had just gathered and began to march when they

were violently set upon by two truckloads of riot police who viciously beat

people with their baton sticks.

Seven people were arrested after this first attempt, some several blocks

away. It is not clear where these seven people are as lawyers have not yet

been able to locate them.

An hour the determined members regrouped near St. Mary’s Cathedral and were

able to conduct a silent march for four blocks before being intercepted by

uniformed police officers one block from the High Court. A discussion took

place between the senior officer present and WOZA National Coordinator,

Jenni Williams, who was in the process of asking members to disperse

peacefully when two truckloads of riot police arrived and once again began

beating people.

Riot police from one vehicle disembarked and began indiscriminately beating

the crowd whilst a second police vehicle ZRP 3039 M deliberately drove into

the back of the crowd injuring many people. As well as the brutal assault on

the peaceful protestors, any women in the vicinity were also beaten.

Eyewitness accounts include seeing a completely innocent bystander be

slapped across the face by a uniformed police officer until she fell to the

ground, all the while protesting her innocence.

Amongst those injured was Jenni Williams, who was beaten with baton sticks,

both on the street and in a police vehicle (ZRP 2030M) when she was

temporarily arrested. She was later released but others were not so lucky.

At least four members were observed being arrested but once again lawyers

have not been able to ascertain their whereabouts as they were observed

being driven to a busy area near Brady Barracks.

There is concern as to the whereabouts of all those who were witnessed being

arrested and also as to how they are being treated.

It has also been reported that riot police have been beating any group of

women that they come across in town throughout the afternoon. Once again

displaying the violent and brutal behaviour that has become synonymous with

the ZANU PF regime.

As well as carrying demands for the Chief Elections Officer, WOZA also

demanded that the uniformed forces and war veterans refrain from further

violence, reminding them that the ‘chefs’ probably will be allowed to cut

deals, whilst they will be left to face the justice of the law and the anger

of the people.

In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, the peaceful protest was also

expected to demonstrate courage to Zimbabweans and show that ‘mothers’ are

speaking out and demanding that their vote count and be respected.

More information will be given when it becomes available.

For more information, please contact either Jenni Williams on +263 912 300

456 or +263 912 898 110, Magodonga Mahlangu on +263 912 363 668 or Annie

Sibanda on +263 912 898 112.

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