11 Members Arrested, Beaten In Bulawayo For Education Protest
At noon today a delegation of 200 women and men marched to Mhlahlandlela Government complex to deliver WOZA’s report on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled - Looking Back to look Forward.
The report covers recommendations and a list of demands that parents want addressed by the Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart. Once the Ministry of Education official had attended and received the report, members began to disperse. As they dispersed seven riot police officers ran out of the Police Drill hall, which is opposite the complex and started to beat the peacefully dispersing activists and innocent bystanders and vendors.
One member who tried to avoid arrest by walking into the passport office was followed and beaten, after being beaten she was then told to ‘run’ to the Drill Hall whilst being beaten all the way there. Another member was also grabbed and suffered the same fate. It was finally determined that a total of eleven members had been arrested and they were seen being frogmarched into the Drill Hall.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights quickly deployed a lawyer but he was unable locate them in the Drill hall complex. At 3:30pm however they were released without charge or explanation. Medication has been supplied for soft tissue bruising caused by being beaten with a baton stick.
The protest took place as a follow up last week’s protests in Bulawayo and Harare. In Harare a journalist and innocent bystander were arrested and released without being detained but a member Tabita Taona spent one and half days in custody before being released under unclear circumstances.
WOZA will continue to demonstrate as long as children are still being chased from schools and the constant demands for fees, levies, incentives to teachers and other demands continue unabated.
WOZA also note that despite promises in their 15 September 2008 agreement made by the power sharing government, for security sector reform and respect for civil liberties, all these have proven to be empty promises that remain ignored by SADC underwriters of the deal. The deal principles remain vocal about their own ‘outstanding issues’ but ignore the people’s outstanding issues - a decent education and jobs with a dignified salary.