17 members arrested, tortured then released

Seventeen members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) arrested at 8:30am 19 Jan 2012 have now all been released from custody. The police are to proceed by way of summons if they can unearth an offence once the investigation is complete. WOZA is deeply concerned at the treatment of our young members, five of whom are deeply traumatised.

WOZA leaders met the activists to hear their testimonies. Many of the young women were wearing an identical and fashionable blouse – that seemed to make them stand out for arrest.

Nicole and Patience received the brunt of the violence and told chilling accounts. A female officer based at Donnington police station – officer Matshaya set upon some of the members standing at the complex and beckoned to them loudly announcing 'WOZA people today I am going to fix you'. The disciplined non violent activists were then bundled into a van and taken to Donnington Police station.

Matshaya and 5 other officers then proceeded to torture the women by making them sit still on 'air chairs', a very painful position. The six officers forced over the head of Nicole a plastic bag ordering her to kick her foot when ready to 'talk' before she suffocates.

One officer knocked a broomstick on the heads of others all the while threatening them to admit to planning a protest. They were not planning a protest and even if they were participating in a peaceful protest is not illegal in Zimbabwe. They had merely gone to the shopping centre upon hearing that there would be a sale.

Officer Matshaya then escorted the members to Central Police station where Officer George Levison Ngwenya of Law and Order was ready to receive them. He set upon Patience Mahlangu beating her and drawing blood accusing her of being a Satanist. All the 16 were threatened and harassed as their details were being recorded. The single male member was separated and released.

Officer Ngwenya then announced to the your women – ' we are going to remove your panties and beat your bottoms. Fortunately the lawyer arrived at that moment and the officers then had to back down. The lawyers remained with the activists through the recording of profile information. The police also insisted that they will photograph the activist so that they can be identified in any future demonstration.

As the activists left the police station at 330pm, Officer Ngwenya followed them outside to tell them 'when you see me around town don't hate me I was just doing my job'. WOZA question when the job of a police officer changed to a perpetrator of violence and torturer of women?

Meanwhile WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu will appear in Tredgold Magistrates court at 9am 20 January 2012 for Magistrate Sangweni to read his reasons for dismissing the application for discharge at close of state case in a continuation of the Kidnap and Theft Trial.

Post published in: Politics

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