Monday, September 20, 2010

Breaking news from Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

WOZA and MOZA commemorate International Peace Day with street protest in Harare
20 September 2010

AT noon today, 600 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe marched to
Parliament in Harare to mark International Peace Day. It is believed
60 members are under arrest at Harare Central Police Station. 25
members were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station. 35
more handed themselves in in solidarity after marching from Parliament
to Harare Central. The total arrested is believed to be 60.

The aim of the peaceful protest was to highlight community safety
issues and police behavior in communities. When the peaceful group
arrived at Parliament, they handed over a list of demands for members
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Police Commissioner and the
co-Ministers of Home Affairs to police officers stationed outside
Parliament. The full list of demands can also be found on our website.

Two members addressed the peaceful group outside Parliament explaining
that tomorrow (21st September) is International Peace Day and using
the example of the violence at COPAC consultations over the weekend to
illustrate how Zimbabweans have little experience of peace. They
called on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to allow Zimbabweans to be able
to give their views of what they want in a new Constitution without
violence and called on police to arrest those that threatened others
or used violence.

Bystanders were overheard supporting the protestors – commenting on
the violence shown by police officers in recent weeks and how police
officers should be ashamed of themselves for not being the ones to
keep the peace.

WOZA members have been worried about the performance and
professionalism of our police officers for some time. As a result,
WOZA has observed their behavior in select communities in Bulawayo and
Harare for four months.

WOZA members observed police officers beating suspects in public;
harassing vendors and taking their goods for their own use, without
any receipting; demanding and accepting bribes, both in public and at
police stations; drinking in uniform in public, sometimes stopping to
drink while escorting suspects who will be under arrest and making
people under arrest ‘run’ in front of their motor bikes and/or horses
to the police station. In Bulawayo, many police officers refuse to
respond to citizens’ complaints if they speak in the Ndebele language,
insisting they speak in Shona.

75% of people whose rights were violated during arrest reported
damages, injuries and or loss of property. These incidents are common
when one is arrested by the plain-clothed and municipal police.

A more detailed account of our findings can be found on our website at but the investigations done during the four
months is just a small part of what is happening and are a reflection
of a poor relationship between police and the community. It is clear
that police officers routinely violate human rights and do not follow
proper protocols of arrest and detention. In this regard, they are not
following the Zimbabwe Police Act, the ZRP Service Charter and ZRP
Service Standards as well as regional and international standards and

Please phone Harare Central Police Station on +263 4 777777 to demand
that the WOZA activists be released immediately.

20th September 2010

For more information, please call Jenni Williams on +263 912 898 110 /
+263 11 213 885, Magodonga Mahlangu on +263 912 362 or Annie Sibanda
on +27 79 188 1560. Email or visit You can also follow us on Twitter at or find us on Facebook.

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