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Zimbabwe Women Activists Held In Eastern Mutare For 'Illegal Meeting'


Two members of the Zimbabwean activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise seemed likely to spend the weekend in jail in the eastern city of Mutare following their arrest Thursday for holding what officials said was an illegal meeting, the group said.

WOZA issued an update late Friday saying organizers had confirmed that Magodonga Mahlangu, a senior figure in the Bulawayo-based organization, and Clara Majengwa, "will be kept at Sakubva Police Station over the weekend." The statement said that after being "denied food all day" they were allowed to receive it Friday evening.

The group said conditions in the jail in the Mutare suburb were "appalling with the women complaining of lice and mosquitoes in cold, damp cells."

The group expressed the hope that the two women would be arraigned on Monday. A hearing scheduled Friday in Mutare magistrate's court failed to take place because state prosecutors failed to show up, later saying that they had been delayed.

Eighteen other WOZA members arrested with them paid a fine and were released.

The WOZA statement said prosecutors had demanded a bribe, which the two women refused to pay. Sources said the two were like to face charges under Zimbabwe's Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after their refusal to pay fines.

The WOZA statement said activists were force-marched for a kilometer to Sakubva Police Station, and alleged that police beat some of the group's members.

WOZA member Nolwandle Ncube, speaking with reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe earlier Friday, gave an account of the episode.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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