Women of Zimbabwe Arise leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were released on bail on 3 July after spending 33 nights in jail.
They were arrested after members of WOZA and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marched in Harare to protest against increasing violence in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off.
United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee and an embassy official were not allowed to see Williams and Mahlangu while in prison because they had not been granted permission by the Zimbabwe Prison Service.
Spanish and British embassy officials were however reportedly allowed to visit the two without permission from the ZPS.
Viewing cable 08HARARE592, WOZA ACTIVISTS RELEASED ON BAIL
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0592 1851619
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031619Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3137
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2114
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2234
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0772
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1511
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1869
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2290
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4721
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1380
UNCLAS HARARE 000592
AF/S FOR S. HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: WOZA ACTIVISTS RELEASED ON BAIL
REF: HARARE 479
¶1. (U) In their July 3 hearing, Women of Zimbabwe Arise!
(WOZA) activists Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were
granted bail after having spent 33 nights in jail. Williams
received Secretary Rice’s Women of Courage award for Africa
in 2007. After the judge exited the courtroom, Williams
hugged the female prison guard next to her and the WOZA
member-filled courtroom burst into applause. The trial date
is set for July 29.
¶2. (U) On May 30, 13 members of WOZA and one member of Men
of Zimbabwe Arise! (MOZA) were arrested during a peaceful
protest in downtown Harare. At their initial bail hearing on
May 31, all 14 were denied bail. When the case went to the
high court on June 13, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo granted bail to
12 members but found that Williams and Mahlangu were at risk
of causing “Kenya-style” violence during the June 27
presidential election. Given that the election has now
passed, Williams’ and Mahlangu’s lawyer again applied for
bail on July 3 on the basis that circumstances had changed.
The bail in this second hearing was granted. All 14 have to
report to the local police station every Monday and Friday
until their trial date on July 29.
¶3. (SBU) Poloff spoke with the 12 WOZA members who had been
granted bail on June 13. They were very grateful for
Ambassador McGee’s attempt to visit Williams and Mahlangu at
Chikurubi Women’s Prison on July 1. The Ambassador and
poloff were denied entrance to the prison because they had
not been granted permission by the Zimbabwean Prison Service
(ZPS). Even though the Ambassador and poloff were not
allowed in the prison, they appreciated the continue support
of the USG and broader diplomatic community. (NOTE: the
Spanish Charge d’affaires and British poloff were allowed to
visit on June 18, despite not having permission from the ZPS.
END NOTE.). Post will continue to monitor the case.