Woza Leaders Denied Bail

THE Attorney-General (AG)’s office has failed to respond to an urgent High Court application filed on Monday by lawyers representing Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu appealing against the state’s denial of bail to the duo.

Williams and Mahlangu were denied bail by Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa on Monday who concurred with the state that if the two were released on bail they were likely to “prejudice the administration of justice by committing a similar offence,” as evidenced by their four pending cases.
Maphosa in her judgement cited a section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act that applies to violent crimes.
However, the lawyer representing the two Woza leaders, Kossam Ncube, of Kossam Ncube & Associates, said the Attorney-General’s office was supposed to have responded to the application within the stipulated 48 hours in line with the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
“The Attorney-General office was supposed to respond within 48 hours as stated in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, but they have failed to do so,” Ncube said. “We have since requested that the application documents be taken to any High Court judge for a ruling. We will only know the outcome tomorrow (today).”
Williams and Mahlangu have spent over two weeks in police custody.
In her judgement, Maphosa ruled that the current political climate was not conducive for demonstrations and argued that protests by Woza were damaging and likely to incite public violence.
However, she dismissed the state’s claim that the applicants were of no fixed abode.
Williams and Mahlangu were arrested over a fortnight ago at Mhlahlandlela government complex in Bulawayo while leading more than 200 activists during demonstrations to protest against delays in the formation of an all-inclusive government.
In a statement this week, Woza condemned Maphosa’s ruling and said it was further evidence that the judiciary has been politicised and that the current power-sharing talks were a “hollow sham”.
“Once again Zanu PF has demonstrated that it is determined to cling to power whatever the cost. We remain committed to demanding social justice for all Zimbabweans regardless of the personal cost and stand by the demands that led to Williams and Mahlangu being arrested,” the Woza statement read.
Human rights organisations have been lobbying for their release with Human Rights Watch being the latest organisation to do so. — Staff Writers