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Police attack students at UZ on eve of Tsvangirai judgement
Students Solidarity Trust
October 20, 2004

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members and state agents, armed to teeth with assault riffles, baton sticks and tear gas canisters, descended on the University of Zimbabwe and brutally assaulted in excess of 17 defenceless students on the night of 14 October 2004.

The Secretary General of the Student Executive Council (SEC) at the University, Miss Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatswayo was arbitrarily detained for 4 hours during which she sustained bruises all over her body, and a swollen head and feet, before being released just after 1 am without any charges cited. Students at the University reported shots being fired and the residences of leading SEC office bearers being ransacked, in a bid to locate the President Gift Nyandoro and Treasurer Washington Katema, who together with Gladys stood accused of distributing T-shirts written:

'Trial for democracy " in front and
" He is not guilty " at the back.

The armed forces, who are said to have been led to the above halls of residence by known ruling party supporters at the University are said to have kept vigil at the college all night. They were apparently on the look out for the said two, amid allegations that they were distributing the T-shirts in order to mobilise students to attend the verdict hearing for the Opposition party MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai - supposedly with intentions of disrupting the proceedings if the judgement was not fair and possibly intending to march on the city centre in protest. Katema and Nyandoro were however able to escape to relative safety after using the windows of their residences as exits.

The heavy police presence and assault of targeted SEC members at the institution came on the back of the arrest of 3 Student Union members, Collin Chibango, Aurther Masuka, both Students Representative Assembly Members and the third who was only identified as Killian, for pamphleteering, pasting posters and writing graffiti on the walls bearing the same message as was on the t-shirts.

In a separate but related incident on the same night, the President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZINASU, Phillan Zamchiya sustained head injuries, a bust lip with 9 stitches, a swollen neck and feet, after being beaten up by some men , who threw him into the back of a Mazda B18 pick up truck citing the same allegations as above. Phillan who was waylaid in the Avenues area of Harare on his way home from the Students Union offices, was able to master the courage to jump out of the moving truck into a block of flats where an unidentified lady was able to take him to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment after he had fallen unconscious outside her door. He was able to receive further treatment at the Avenues Clinic, before being moved to a more secure location for treatment after further victimisation by state agents.

The targeted beatings and detention of these student leaders is symptomatic of the injustice that is prevailing across the board in the country, and serves to highlight what they are fighting against.

This systemic harassment of anyone who dares to raise their voice in thought or in action against some of the wanton disregard for people's rights by the ruling regime is a clear affront to students, and indeed to citizens' rights to an opinion, organisation and association. These are actions that deserve to be roundly condemned by all progressives within and without the boarders of Zimbabwe.

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