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Bulawayo Activists Accuse Police in Chemical Contamination of House


WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu charged that police before vacating the premises planted bullets and fliers urging the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe in Egyptian-style protests

Leading activists in the Bulawayo-based pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise and reporters for the independent daily Newsday took ill on Tuesday after inhaling chemical fumes in a house held for 10 days by the police following a June 10 raid.

A high court judge on Monday ordered police to leave the suburban Bulawayo house.

WOZA members who visited the house last night accompanied by journalists later complained of respiratory problems.

A physician who examined them confirmed their symptoms on condition of anonymity, telling VOA that she was treating seven WOZA members and two journalists for respiratory distress, coughing and itchy, reddish eyes.

One WOZA member collapsed and was hospitalized.

WOZA co-founders Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu also charged that police before vacating the premises planted bullets and flyers urging the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe in Egyptian-style protests.

Police spokesmen Andrew Phiri and Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena refused to comment.

WOZA coordinator Williams told VOA that she now fears for her life.

WOZA is a grassroots movement with more than 75,000 members throughout the country working to empower women to mobilize and take non-violent action against injuries.

The group received the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from United States President Barack Obama.

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