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Zimbabwe university evicts students following food riots
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
July 10, 2007

Thousands of students were Monday evicted from Zimbabwe's main university campus after they protested at the weekend against a decision to deny them food for not paying their fees.

An AFP correspondent witnessed students carrying suitcases and bags trekking out of the University of Zimbabwe campus following an ultimatum to "pack up and leave in 20 minutes" while riot police watched. "We were all taken by surprise this afternoon when we saw notices this afternoon ordering us to leave the halls of residence within 20 minutes or risk being beaten up by the police," said Chadwick Rugube, a second-year commerce student.

The university authorities ordered the students out of their dormitories after skirmishes on Sunday between university security and students who were protesting over a decision to deny them food for three days after they failed to top-up their school fees.

"The authorities decided to extend the semester after we lost time during a strike by lecturers and said we should pay an extra one million dollars (4,000 US dollars or nine US dollars on the black market)," said Rugube.

"It's not our fault that the lecturers went on strike and we were saying why should we be made to pay. That's why we had demonstrations on Sunday evening."

The Zimbabwe National Students' Union spokesman Benjamin Nyandoro said at least 4,000 students were thrown out of their hostels.

He said the union had filed an interdict at the high court and was urging students to resist the evictions.

Authorities at the institution could not be reached for comment.

Scores of students were stranded beside their luggage by roadsides.

"The majority of those who stay on campus have no homes, friends or relatives in Harare so they are going to sleep in the open," Nyandoro said.

"It just shows how heartless the authorities are. Some of us are starting examinations next week and this is going to affect us psychologically."

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