Zimbabwe police beat up more than 100 women protesting unpaid wages

HARARE (AFP) - Baton-wielding Zimbabwean police beat up more than 100 women protesting against the non-payment of their husbands' wages by the country's largest coal miner last week, a rights group said Monday.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the police assaulted the women for staging a protest march after their husbands, who are employed by Hwange Colliery Company in western Zimbabwe, went for several months without pay.

One of the women was so badly injured she is said to be fighting for her life.

"Lawyers have intervened to seek justice for some women who were brutalised by armed officers of the... police for protesting against state-owned coal miner Hwange Colliery Company's failure to pay their husbands' salaries for several months," the ZLHR said.

"Four of the women were badly injured and are in hospital, where one of them is battling for her life in the intensive care unit," the group said in a statement.

The lawyers said two women who were arrested during the protest were later released.

A police spokesman, chief superintendent Paul Nyathi, said the police "intercepted" the women who were demonstrating last week as their protest was not sanctioned.

"These women were conducting a demonstration without following proper procedures as stated in the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)," he told AFP.

"They did not notify the regulating authority (police)."

Zimbabwean law requires that police be informed of any plans for a march.

Mr Nyathi refused to comment on details of the numbers that were arrested or beaten as alleged by rights activists.

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