14 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Soldiers Threaten to Destroy Tent Housing Striking Hwange Women

Soldiers from 1.2 Infantry Battalion reportedly threatened to destroy the tent that was being used by striking women who are camped at the Hwange Colliery Company premises, chairperson of the group, Claris Ngoma told a press conference in Harare recently.

When the demonstration began about 100 days ago, soldiers milled around at the premises in what the women said was an attempt to intimidate them into abandoning the action.

Ngoma said the owner of the tent told them that he had been called by someone claiming to be from 1.2 Infantry Battalion warning him to remove his tent or risk having it destroyed.

"I received a call from the owner of the tent... He only said the person who was calling was from 1.2, of which we know the only 1.2 here are soldiers. He wanted us to remove the tent because the person had said if it was not removed they would have nothing to do with the tent," Ngoma told reporters in Harare.

She said on the day of the threat, the owner of the tent, whom she did not identify, went on to pull it down, resulting in the women sleeping in the open.

Ngoma said the other owner of the new tent they had hired had also been threatened and was sure to pull it down anytime, saying she was not sure if the tent was still there.

The colliery company has since made proposals to offload some of its residential properties in Hwange town to raise about $300 million to pay the outstanding salaries, including selling some of the company's houses to workers.

The women have been demonstrating outside the company premises for 100 days now demanding that the colliery company pays their husbands their outstanding salaries.

Attempts by the company to have the women evicted hit a snag after the High Court threw out its petition seeking an order to remove them.

HCCL had sought a grant order compelling the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, the Officer-In-Charge of Hwange Police Station and the Sherriff of the High Court, to assist in evicting the protesting women and their children from occupying the premises.

The HCC argued that it had unsuccessfully sought the services of ZRP in evicting the protesting women, whom it argued were disrupting the coal miner's day to day operations. ZRP had argued that the spouses had a right to protest and petition as provided in the Constitution.

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