Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), will spend yet another weekend in prison after the magistrate who was due to rule on the pair’s bail application on Friday delayed her judgement to attend a workshop.
The two activists were arrested in Bulawayo during a WOZA demonstration, protesting the extreme hardships, including the critical food shortages, being suffered by Zimbabweans. More than 200 activists converged at a government complex demanding to be heard by the heads of service delivery, about what is being done to address the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of Zimbabweans. However riot police used force to disperse the peaceful protesters and some women were arrested before the demonstration even began. They were later released. But Williams and Mahlangu, who are being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly disturbing the peace, still remain in custody after they were denied bail last Friday.
Magistrate Charity Maphosa was due to rule on the pair’s bail application this Friday after reserving judgement on the matter on Tuesday. But on arriving at court their defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, was informed that Magistrate Maphosa was not available because she was ‘forced’ to attend a workshop, and that another magistrate would deliver her verdict. Instead Magistrate Sophie Matimba delayed the ruling until Monday at 11.15am....