Freedom For WOZA Leaders

Justice Cheda granted bail to the WOZA leaders ordered Williams and Mahlangu and ordered them to deposit $200 each with the clerk of court as bail money and not to interfere with State witnesses.

The two are expected back in court on Thursday.

Kossam Ncube, of Kossam Ncube and Partners Legal Practitioners, who is also a board member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Lizwe Jamela of ZLHR represented the WOZA leaders.

Williams and Mahlangu were arrested by the police on September 21, 2011 as they prepared to peacefully stage a march in Bulawayo in observance of International Day of Peace. They were incarcerated at the notorious Mlondolozi Prison, which is part of the Khami prison complex in Bulawayo.

Ten other WOZA members who were arrested together with Williams and Mahlangu and charged with criminal nuisance were freed on September 22, 2011 after prosecutors at Bulawayo Magistrates Court declined to prosecute them.

In a statement after the granting of bail, WOZA said: “It is clear from this ruling that the judge did not take the case against them very seriously, and we wonder why it took so long for a bail hearing date to be set down.

“WOZA is dismayed that under the Government of National Unity such a perversion of justice continues, with elements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the justice system allowed to operate untrammelled without the slightest concern for the basic principles of law and human rights.”

The two women deny charges of theft and kidnap charges which date back to earlier this year when they had gone to retrieve goods stolen from WOZA’s offices.

The pair was accused of ‘kidnapping’ a woman and holding her against her will for several hours. It is the same woman who had accompanied the WOZA leaders to find the stolen property.

In a statement last week, WOZA said the arrest and charges against Williams and Mahlangu “are all meant to “harass the WOZA leadership and frustrate the activities of a movement which is peacefully promoting democracy and social justice.”