WOZA activists released on bail in Zimbabwe

The leaders of Zimbabwean activist movement, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), have been released on bail after three weeks in detention. Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were each granted bail by the Bulawayo High Court on Wednesday.

The two women were ordered to report to their closest police station twice a week and not travel outside of a 40km radius of Bulawayo Post Office without written permission from a Magistrate. Justice Ndou of Bulawayo High Court ruled that the reasons given by Magistrate Charity Maphosa for denying bail to Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were not sufficient.

“Attempts to release the two were frustrated by administrative errors that meant the re-typing (twice) of their release documents. These delays meant that it was not possible to secure the release of the two this evening, although the support team did travel to Mlondolozi to try. The team will return to the prison first thing in the morning to collect them,” said WOZA in a statement.

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), were arrested on 16 October in the city of Bulawayo after leading a peaceful protest of about 200 activists demanding immediate access to food aid in Zimbabwe. Police used excessive force to break up the protest. Magodonga Mahlangu was beaten by police during her arrest.

Amnesty International considered Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu to be prisoners of conscience and called for their immediate and unconditional release. The organization said that their arrest was part of the government of Zimbabwe’s clampdown on human rights defenders who are campaigning to highlight the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.