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Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who have frequently been arrested in the past for holding peaceful demonstrations in support of various causes, were again arrested while engaging in a peaceful demonstration in Zimbabwe. On 16 June 2004, 43 WOZA women were detained at Matshobana Hall by CIO agents and ZRP officers in Mpopoma constituency (BULAWAYO Province) where they were scheduled to have a community meeting.
Jenni Williams, leader of WOZA, claims that two plain-clothes policemen interrupted the opening session of the meeting wherein the facilitators were discussing project formulation. The officers stopped the meeting and informed the women that they would be charged under POSA. Williams reports that the women were locked up in Mathsobana Hall for about 15 minutes. A group of fully geared anti-riot police then reportedly arrived at the scene and ordered the women to get into a police Santana vehicle parked outside the hall. The women were taken to Western Commonage Police Station in the Santana in several loads. Four of the arrested women were detained for the night whilst the rest of them and the 7 babies were released.
On 19 June 2004 WOZA women’s freedom of association and assembly was further curtailed. 73 WOZA women who had gathered at the Bulawayo Main Post Office to commemorate the United Nations World Refugee Day were arrested by uniformed police officers. By noon, the WOZA leadership who had remained out of the reach of the police gathered more women together and marched to Bulawayo Central Police Station in solidarity with their colleagues who had been arrested. Of these, further eleven women were reportedly arrested by the police and detained in custody for 3 days and nights at Donnington Police Station. These 11 women were eventually taken to Court on the 4th day and were initially to be charged under POSA, however, they were eventually charged under Section 7 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. The WOZA women were remanded to 13 August 2004 on free bail. The 73 women that had been arrested on the morning of 19 June were released later that same day having paid $25 000 Admission of Guilt fines.
Attacks on MDC supporters attending a rally at Mukandabhutsu in Msasa Park, Hatfield constituency, (HARARE Province) on 6 June 2004 makes evident the climate of intolerance by ZANU PF supporters to those people who want to associate with other political parties.
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