WOZA leaders denied bail


0

Women of Zimbabwe Arise Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were denied bail when they appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa.

They were arrested for leading a march in which they called on the government to declare a national disaster and to give food aid to all Zimbabweans.

Though the prosecutor and Williams and Mahlangu’s lawyer had agreed on bail, a new prosecutor took over the case and argued that the two should be denied bail because of an outstanding case against them.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE966, BUSINESS AS USUAL: POLICE TEAR GAS PROTESTERS,

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE966

2008-10-27 15:53

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5736

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0966/01 3011553

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 271553Z OCT 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3620

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2382

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2502

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1006

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1778

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2133

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2558

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4986

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1651

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000966

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

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

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: BUSINESS AS USUAL: POLICE TEAR GAS PROTESTERS,

WOZA LEADERS DENIED BAIL

 

REF: A. HARARE 934

B. HARARE 592

C. HARARE 479

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) In the face of ongoing SADC-sponsored negotiations,

the GOZ continues to use violence to stifle free expression.

At 9:00 am this morning, several civil society groups led two

different protests of hundreds of people to the area outside

Rainbow Towers, the hotel where the negotiations were to

begin later in the morning, only to be greeted by police who

arrested and beat women and students and used tear gas to

break up their protests. Simultaneously in Bulawayo, leaders

of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were denied bail following

their arrest during a protest there on October 16. END

SUMMARY.

 

—————————————–

Women Arrested While Praying for Zimbabwe

—————————————–

 

2. (SBU) On the morning of October 27, about 100 women —

wearing black and white to represent suffering and peace —

began to gather outside Rainbow Towers, the downtown Harare

hotel that has been home to the negotiations. Approximately

800 women from a dozen civil society organizations including

WOZA, Women’s Alliance, the Combined Harare Residents’

Association (CHRA), the Progressive Teachers’ Union of

Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

(ZCTU), and the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers of

Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) planned to present a petition to the SADC

Troika at Rainbow Towers. Their message was “Finish the

talks, we are dying of hunger”. When the first group of

women arrived, police denied them access to the Rainbow

Towers compound, and they retreated to a nearby field facing

the building where they began to pray while waiting for the

rest of the women to arrive. Shortly after they moved to the

nearby field, police dispersed the group with tear gas and

beat them with batons. They arrested at least 42 women.

Witnesses reported police beat passersby who were

coincidentally Qaring black or white. Counseling Services

Unit, a local NGO that treats victims of political violence,

estimates that about 20 women have sought medical attention

for their injuries. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

dispatched five lawyers to Harare Central police station,

where, seven hours later, police continue to deny them access

to the arrested women.

 

——————————-

Student March Met With Tear Gas

——————————-

 

3. (SBU) Simultaneously, Youth Agenda Trust led a

demonstration of about 200 students from Youth Forum, Student

Christian Movement of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe National

Students Union (ZINASU) down one of Harare’s main streets

towards Rainbow Towers. The students planned to present the

SADC Troika with a petition calling for a logical and

balanced power-sharing agreement and highlight the need for

SADC and the AU to pressure Mugabe to share power equitably

with Morgan Tsvangirai. The students handed out a half-page

flyer detailing their demands for a political solution.

While police initially let the students march peacefully,

riot police then fired tear gas grenades and beat up some of

the protesters as well as others who happened to be in the

busy downtown area. Riot police also had a water canon truck

 

HARARE 00000966 002 OF 003

 

 

on standby. ZLHR is looking for three students who were

reportedly arrested, but has not yet been able to locate them.

 

——————————————— —

After 12 Days in Jail, WOZA Leaders Denied Bail

——————————————— —

 

4. (SBU) Also on the morning of October 27, Bulawayo

magistrate Charity Maphosa denied bail to Jenni Williams and

Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise

(WOZA), in connection with their arrest on October 16. The

two were arrested when they led a protest of about 200 women

to the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo to demand

food aid and declaration of a national emergency. Williams

and Mahlangu appeared in court on October 17, facing charges

of disturbing the peace. Immediately before the initial

hearing, the state prosecutor and defense lawyer, Kossam

Ncube, set conditions and the amount of bail; the state

prosecutor said he would not oppose bail. However, when the

hearing started, a new prosecutor appeared and took over the

case.

 

5. (SBU) The state prosecutor proceeded to claim that the

two should be denied bail because of an outstanding case

pending against them, referring to a case that was removed

from remand in a Harare magistrate’s court on October 15. In

that case, the magistrate told the state to come to court on

October 15 prepared to try 14 WOZA members in connection with

their May 28 arrest (reftels). When the prosecutor appeared

unprepared, the magistrate removed the case from remand.

(NOTE: Removing a case from remand means it is no longer

pending, although the state has not officially dropped the

charges. END NOTE.) In the October 17 hearing, the state

argued that Williams and Mahlangu should be denied bail

because their May 28 case was still pending. The magistrate

allowed the state prosecutor until October 21 to verify the

status of the May 28 case.

 

6. (SBU) In court on October 21, the state argued that the

two should be denied bail because of four different cases

against them dating back to 2004. The state called a police

detective, Sergeant Ncube, who testified that, in one of the

long-pending cases, he could not present Williams and

Mahlangu with a summons because he could never find them at

their stated addresses. The state went on to argue that the

two had committed similar offenses and were likely to do so

again. The prosecutor argued that the magistrate should

ignore the fact that their arrests had been for crimes that

were not serious. He also said that in a 2007 arrest,

Williams and Mahlangu had lied when asked if they had any

cases pending against them. (NOTE: The “pending” cases had

been removed from remand, which legally means they are no

longer pending. END NOTE.) The magistrate decided to

reserve judgment until October 24. On October 24, however,

the magistrate was unavailable and reported she was “forced”

to attend a workshop and could not deliver the verdict.

 

7. (SBU) After spending 11 days in jail, the magistrate

denied the two women bail on October 27, claiming the two had

two cases pending against them, making it likely they would

commit similar offenses again. She also noted that the

political climate in Zimbabwe means that “people are easily

excitable” and could be moved to violence if they saw a

demonstration. The defense will lodge an appeal to the High

Court.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

HARARE 00000966 003 OF 003

 

 

 

8. (SBU) While the SADC Troika and Zimbabwe’s politicians

meet, the Zimbabwean people are growing increasingly

impatient with the continued impasse. The beatings, arrests,

and denial of bail in clear contravention of the principles

set out in the September 15 agreement indicate business as

usual and lack of good faith on the part of ZANU-PF/GOZ.

Rule of law and respect for human rights and the provisions

of the September 15 agreement remain elusive in Zimbabwe.

END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

(7 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *