“The four women endured hellish conditions in the cells – the worst that these veteran activists, who have been detained on numerous
occasions, have ever seen. All women require medical treatment for a rash all over their bodies and diahorrea due to the filthy conditions
and flu symptoms from the cold conditions. Their bodies also ache from being forced to sit and sleep on cold concrete for six days,” said WOZA in a statement on Tuesday.
“The corridors and floor of the female cells were covered in urine and human faeces due to blocked toilets and there was only sporadic water supply. The women were also initially subjected to verbal abuse from police officers until the non-violent activists refused to accept the abuse.”
WOZA said the Attorney General’s office refused to press charges against the four women due to lack of sufficient evidence. The women did not appear in court as defence lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, spoke directly with the Attorney General’s office.
According to WOZA, officers from the Law and Order Department at Harare Central, had tried to force the women to pay ‘admission of guilt’ fines on Saturday to ‘buy’ their freedom.
WOZA said it will now sue the Zimbabwe Republic Police for wrongful arrest and detention.
“What is clear is that police officers also have to work in these inhuman and degrading conditions.” said WOZA.
“The human rights defenders can also testify to the large-scale corruption being practiced in the cells. Bribery is rife; with bribes
being paid by prisoners to secure their speedy release from the horrific conditions. The sale of mbanje (marijuana) is also common.”
However, WOZA said it was relieved that the four women had been released.
“This malicious harassment of human rights defenders is continued evidence that very little has changed in Zimbabwe despite
the formation of a unity government over a year ago and the conciliatory words of the President a few days ago,” noted the statement
“The insistence of ZESA employees that the peaceful activists be arrested will also be remembered. It appears that the electricity provider would rather have its paying customers arrested than dialogue with them about their concerns. This arrogant behavior is further confirmation that ZESA is not interested in providing a service to Zimbabweans but is only interested in taking advantage of their need for a basic requirement.”