Police assault WOZA members at peaceful march in Bulawayo

Riot police in Bulawayo on Tuesday disrupted a protest march by the Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group, assaulting members with baton sticks and making several arrests.

WOZA had planned a peaceful protest march through Bulawayo streets, to start commemorations marking their 10th anniversary.

“With my own eyes I saw police come with baton sticks and start bashing the women as they always do,” SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported after the Tuesday incident. He witnessed at least five arrests, including WOZA member Silibaziso Nzima.

According to Saungweme, police trucks descended on the group as they reached the offices of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), where they were to deliver a copy of their demands, which they want forwarded to Zimbabwe’s principal leaders.

WOZA, founded by coordinator Jenni Williams and the late activist Sheba Dube, have complained to JOMIC about the ill treatment and arrests of their members by the police. The group is demanding that the principals address the issue.

According to a statement by WOZA, four protest groups were meant to begin marching from separate locations then converge at the JOMIC offices. Tuesday’s arrests confirm the group’s insistence that they are denied their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

Williams and fellow WOZA coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu are currently facing kidnap charges, even though the alleged victims testified that they were never abducted by WOZA members, contradicting statements produced by the police in court. SW Radio Africa

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