8 appear make bail, police confirm looking for organisers

wozaEIGHT WOZA members arrested during a protest against the on the 24th
of May 2011 appeared at Western Commonage Magistrate Court on 26th of
May 2011.

Those arrested were Grace Moyo, Stella Chivunge,

Sikhangezile Sibanda, Simangaliphi Msimanga, 16yr old Cecelia Ncube,

Siboniso Siziba, Miriam Moyo, and Memory Matandare with her 3month old

baby Rejoice.

The accused were represented by Human Rights Lawyer Kossam Ncube and

appeared before Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja. The Public Prosecutor

was Fiona Ncube-Dhenere represented the state.

They were formally charged with two counts the Criminal Law

Codification and Reform Act 9:23 Count 1 is Section 41(a) –

Intentional engaging in a disorderly or riotous conduct and count 2

Section 46(2) (f) – Encumbering or obstructing the free passage along

any street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk or pavements.

As the state was opposing bail a hearing had to be conducted. The

state called Investigating officer Detective Assistant Inspector

Nhlanhla Ncube from Pumula Police station to give evidence. He argued

that police are not done with the investigations as they want to

arrest the organisers of the action. He told the court that since

January police have been on the lookout for Woza organisers and they

want those in custody to lead them to the organisers.

Defence attorney argued that this matter was not to be put on the

shoulders of the current accused who should not suffer as a result of

police incompetence to do their work. After an adjourned the

Magistrate Shepherd Munjanja indicated that it is the duty of the

police to investigate first before arresting and not to arrest and

investigate. He reminded the police prison cells are not place to keep

people who have not been proven to be guilty while police officers are

doing their investigations. He granted them $100 bail each, and

ordered them to report every Friday at Pumula police camp until the

finalisation of the matter. The defence applied to challenge the

charges on the next remand date which is the 9th June 2011. All the

accused pleaded not guilty.

The charge and statement taking procedures were done 8 times with all

statements being torn up and ‘they did not make sense’ so finding a

charge was problematic and it is amazing with this background that the

investigating team went further to want to refuse bail and indicated

that they want to arrest the organisers since January. Noting the

evidence made by the police officer under oath is a confirmation of

the police harassment of WOZA Human rights Defenders and direct proof

that there is no political will to implement respect for freedoms of

assembly and expression and promises contained in the political

agreement. It is also direct contempt for a Supreme Court ruling

obtained by Williams and Mahlangu for a 2008 arrest. It is promising

to note that the magistrate reminder to the police that they must

investigate then arrest is a reprimand for the police force that

prefer to employ persecution by prosecution as standard practice and

it is hopeful that

in the next sitting he will rule for these frivolous charges to be withdrawn.

It is sad to note that arresting officers initially asked for deport

fines to be paid but members said they had not committed any offence

and demanded their right to appear in court. The just action at that

point was to release the eight but they could not be humble and

proceeded to detain them. The whole afternoon on Tuesday, they could

not find a police station to detain them and the law and order

department also refused to receive the case saying that arresting

officers were overzealous must finish their own dirty work and even

questioned why they were even arrested in the first place. The

arbitrary arrest of Human Rights defenders is an urgent call for

security sector reform.

Post published in: Politics

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