Cathy Buckle is writing again from Zimbabwe, her letter is below.It seems that it isn't just the Government giving trouble to the people of Zimbabwe, but natural incidents as well. This newsletter covers one of each. I include these each month because of the high readership figures for these pages as they show a lot of interest.
Dear Family and Friends,
All week we received increasing warnings about an approaching cyclone.
ZBC radio and TV advised people to avoid low lying areas, not to try and cross flooded bridges or fast moving rivers and to be prepared for heavy rainfall and big storms. Whilst warning us about the approaching weather system, ZBC reminded us that the last cyclone to hit Zimbabwe had been Cyclone Eline, in February 2000, and went on to point out that some of the bridges destroyed by Eline had yet to be repaired – eleven years later. A disgraceful admission if ever we heard one.
Roofs, gutters, drains and trees near houses were top of the list to be checked and cleared. We’d been told to prepare for hailstorms, high winds and rainfall of 80 mm (just over three inches) every day for two or three days. The view from the window was of people checking their roofs, hammering in nails and clearing sticks, pods and branches from gutters.
I spent a morning under a bright blue sky and blazing sun trundling backwards and forwards with a friend collecting rubble and bricks that had been dumped in the bush nearby. We used the bricks to repair a deep gully which had made our quiet, suburban road almost impossible to traverse. Despite repeated appeals to the local municipality, it’s been over four years since any road repairs or maintenance have been done in the neighbourhood. No pot-hole filling, no drain clearing, no grading, no sign of a single municipal worker. My emergency brick dumping was a lonely and desperate attempt to save what’s left of the road in the path of an approaching cyclone.
By the middle of the week storm clouds had stared building up in the burning blue sky. Towering, deep purple columns rising from a dense and imposing grey horizon. Cyclone Dando was now being called a Tropical Depression and had hit Mocambique causing major flooding. It was moving in to parts of South Africa leaving a trial of flooding and devastation.
While we waited for the storm a human cyclone was underway in Bulawayo. Seventeen members of WOZA were arrested while standing at a shopping complex. A woman police officer beckoned to the group and made her intentions quite clear from the outset: 'WOZA people today I am going to fix you,’ she said. The women were taken to Donnington police station where WOZA leaders said that a number of the women were assaulted in custody. Some were knocked on the head with a broomstick and threatened, as police tried to get them to admit that they been planning a protest. Another young woman had a plastic bag forced over her head and was told to kick her leg when she was ready to talk. A male police officer said to the women: ‘we are going to remove your panties and beat your bottoms.’ At that time the WOZA lawyer arrived and the women were released from custody, many said to be deeply traumatized by the events.
A press statement from WOZA said that the male police officer who had threatened to remove the women’s underpants and beat their bottoms, followed the WOZA members out of the police station and said: 'when you see me around town don't hate me I was just doing my job.'
It’s not clear what, if anything, the seventeen women will be charged with. Nor is it clear what, if anything, will happen to the police for their actions to WOZA members at Donnington police station in Bulawayo. If the abuses of the past are anything to go by, we must assume that, like Tropical Storm Dando, they will come to nothing, just blow away in the wind.
Until next week, thanks for reading,
21st January 2012.
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