Two court appearances and an arrest

On Thursday 22 March 2012, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appeared before Magistrate Godwin Sengweni facing Kidnap and Theft charges.

Defence lawyer Kossam Ncube produced a High Court order to 'stay all criminal proceedings' in Regional Court A and applied for the two activists to be removed from remand appearances in Court pending the outcome of the Review of the Magistrate's decision to refuse to discharge Williams and Mahlangu at the close of the state case.

As has now become a habit, the state opposed the application and the Magistrate remanded the leaders to 26 April 2012 when he will give a ruling on whether they are to be removed from remand.

On Friday 23 March 2012 Jennifer Williams and 9 other members arrested on 7 February 2012 in Bulawayo and charged with 'Criminal Nuisance' appeared in court 1. Their lawyer Lizwe Jamela, Chief Law officer of ZLHR, submitted an application to take a challenge to the Supreme Court. The Prosecutor and Magistrate will respond on 27 April 2012.

This Supreme Court application is in response to the State's insistence on charging the activists despite a landmark ruling won by Williams and Mahlangu for their right to protest to be unhindered. This ruling has been successfully used by scores of activists.

On the 22nd March, Riot Police surrounded the Tredgold Magistrates court monitoring closely the movement of WOZA leaders and members. Seven police officers chased anyone standing close to the activists so as to isolate them and scrutinise their movement. They even chased away a mother breastfeeding her baby on the pavement outside the court.

When the two members walked across the road to meet another member, two Riot police followed them and searched them. One member was found with a WOZA branded scarf – standing up for my rights – which was immediately judged to be seditious and she was surrounded by four officers who held onto her clothing and marched her for one city block until a back up vehicle with a truck load of Riot Police arrived to pick her up and took her to Bulawayo Central police station.

She was advised that she would be detained but two minutes later when Mr Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) arrived at the CID Law and Order offices the officers indicated that she was not under arrested but had merely been picked up for profiling. She was questioned about a 'proposed' demonstration later that day. However WOZA was not planning a protest so she replied that she knew of no such demonstration only Court appearances. She was then released.

"WOZA wishes to warn the Police that the public outcry surrounding the searching and arrest of our young member should send a strong message that members of the public are getting irritated with the constant presence of Riot Police in the street conducting arbitrary searches and chasing people standing in groups away from the city centre.

Zimbabweans' patience with the military-style policing is wearing thin!" says a statement pit oit by the organisation.

Post published in: Politics

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