TWENTY-THREE members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) were yesterday arrested and allegedly dumped at West Park Cemetery for demonstrating against persistent water cuts in Bulawayo.
REPORT BY SILAS NKALA STAFF REPORTER
The women, who were holding their second demonstration in as many days, were arrested as they headed towards the Mhlahlandlela government complex before being taken to the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Drill Hall offices where 11 were released.
Another group of 12 was taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station before they were dumped at the cemetery along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road, Woza said in a statement.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights lawyer Lizwe Jamela, who was representing the women, confirmed the arrests.
“Yes, it is true 23 Woza members were arrested today (yesterday),” he said.
“I was told they were taken to Drill Hall where 11 of them were released without charge.
“The other 12 were taken to Central Police Station and I was told they were then driven away along the Victoria Falls Road where they were dumped just close to the West Park Cemetery where I followed and picked them.”
Jamela said the women claimed they were beaten up by the police officers who arrested them.
“They told me that police assaulted them with baton sticks and booted feet,” he said.
One of the Woza leaders, Jennifer Williams, said three of their members were seriously injured following the assault.
“One of the assaulted activists suffered a fractured hand during the attack and I am at the doctor now who has since attended to her,” she told NewsDay.
“Another victim fainted and I am yet to see how she recovers.”
Woza, which has held a series of protests throughout the country in recent years, claimed the demonstrators were tribally abused and also called prostitutes by the police officers.
“Woza has argued that there is a tribal element in the manner in which police in Bulawayo treat Woza members and this has today been further confirmed by the insults from all the police officers,” the group said.
“The women were called prostitutes and told not to speak to each other in the Ndebele language as the Ndebele people were all killed by Gukurahundi in the 1980s.”
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu said he had no information on the arrests and promised to check the details.