The latest female casualty

Florence Ndlovu, the ZimRights Regional Coordinator for Matabeleland, has joined the growing list of female human rights activists who have been arrested for defending the rights of down-trodden members of society.

ZimRights Regional Co-ordinator, Florence Ndlovu.
ZimRights Regional Co-ordinator, Florence Ndlovu.

Ndlovu recently spent a week in filthy police cells following her and a colleague’s arrest in Nyamandlovu for allegedly spreading falsehoods against the police. Ndlovu and Walter Dube were arrested at a roadblock on their way from Tsholotsho where police had disrupted a community workshop on human rights issues.

“The meeting was part of a series ZimRights has been conducting in rural areas. When we were in the middle of the meeting, and I was explaining what torture is all about, a police officer approached me and instructed me to stop the meeting. When I showed him the High Court order which we had been granted, the officer said was under instructions to stop the meeting,” said Ndlovu.

After the disruption, Ndlovu and Dube were ordered to vacate the area by police, amid heavy protest from the local community.

“When we arrived at Nyamandlovu on our way to Bulawayo, heavily armed police officers had mounted a roadblock and we were all arrested for accusing the police of torturing people. We were detained for two days at Nyamandlovu police station before being transferred to Lupane police station where Dube’s charges were dropped. I spent several days in a filthy and lice-infested cell,” she said.

The 30- year-old human rights activist said her recent experience had given her more zeal and determination to fight human rights violations.

“There is a huge information gap in rural areas. People’s basic human rights are being trampled upon day in and day out. My recent experience at the hands of police has moulded me into a stronger human rights defender.”

More than 40 human rights defenders and political activists have been arrested this year in Matabeleland North.

“Police continue to disregard court orders in this province. POSA says people have to

notify the police before holding a public meeting, but the police ignore this. There is a lot of fear here,” said Ndlovu.

In May this year, High Court judge, Nicholas Mathonsi, chided police in the province for unlawfully detaining a Nkayi activist, Jorum Dube, for two weeks without bringing him to court. Dube was only released following a High Court Order declaring his detention illegal. Justice Mathonsi chided top Nkayi officers for lacking knowledge of the law, adding that ignorant officers posed a threat to the public.

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