SEVENTY-NINE members of the pressure group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), were yesterday arrested and released without charge for holding a peaceful protest at the Bulawayo City Council’s Tower Block offices demanding provision of clean water.
BY OUR STAFF REPORTERS
NewsDay photographer Resta Nyamwanza who was covering the protest had her camera confiscated by the police.
Woza’s demonstration was meant to express residents’ concerns over escalating water problems in the city. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ Lizwe Jamela confirmed the arrest of the activists who were led by Woza leader Magodonga Mahlangu, saying they were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station, but were released after their intervention.
“All of them have since been released without a charge. The police said they were only maintaining peace and order,” Jamela said.
The activists said residents were now living under difficult circumstances because of mismanagement by the city fathers.
“Residents have a right to clean water and the right to health, both of which are being abused by city fathers,” read part of a Woza statement distributed during the protest.
“Homes are now unlivable as toilets are stinking and there is littering of human waste in the streets.”
The activists complained about the high rates and penalties yet the local authority failed to provide water.
“The city council should clarify the issue of high bills and penalties when we have limited water access. People are being supplied with dirty water,” Woza said.
Meanwhile, Nyamwanza was also released without charge, but police ordered her to delete the pictures of police officers who stopped the demonstration.
A police officer who wrested the camera from the photographer ordered her to follow him to the police station.
She was sent to the office of Detective Sergeant George Ngwenya who asked why she was taking pictures of the police officers.
Ngwenya charged that Nyamwanza had to first seek permission from the police before taking photographs.
“Why are you taking photographs of the police, are they (police) yours?” charged Ngwenya.
“You have to seek permission from the police before you take pictures.”
Ngwenya then ordered Nyamwanza to delete the pictures saying: “Come and we delete your s***,” he said.
He threatened that if he saw a picture of the police at the demonstration in any media, he would arrest the photographer and a student journalist who was with her covering the event.
Ngwenya then took Nyamwanza’s particulars.