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Victimisation of students continues countrywide
Students Solidarity Trust
Extracted from September Newsletter
October 03, 2007

The victimization of student activists exercising their legitimate right to free expression and assembly at the institutions of higher learning in the country continues at an accelerated pace.

The month of September, which incidentally is the month most colleges in Zimbabwe open, saw an increased and sustained attack on the liberties of students in the country.

The victimization has continued to manifest itself through suspensions, unlawful detentions, and torture. Constant human right violations within the students obtained frequently in Masvingo, at the Great Zimbabwe University and the University of Zimbabwe.

Incidentally, the minefields that have filled the political terrain of student activism have confirmed that the administration and the law enforcement agents are bend on stifling student right to free debate and assembly. Students are more often than not unlawfully arrested and detained, without charge, in an endeavor to criminalise student activism.

Edmore Phunungwe, a Bachelor of Arts student at the Great Zimbabwe University was suspended indefinitely by the college authorities for taking pictures of demonstration that occurred at the campus last semester, he was suspended on the 2nd of September. He was subsequently suspended for one year.

In the same month, 6 student leaders were arrested in Masvingo at the Great Zimbabwe University after student leaders at the campus were involved in skirmishes with rival students from the Zimbabwe Congress of Students' Union (ZICOSU).

ZICOSU is a parallel students organization formed by government, in the mould of Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), to counter the influence of ZINASU at the country's institutions of higher learning. Police with the active participation of students affiliated to ZICOSU arrested the student leaders.

Among the student leaders arrested were Whitlow Mugwiji, SRC President and Eddington Hlatshwayo, SRC Secretrary General. They were arrested on the 11th of September, and spend two nights in police custody. 5 of them were released without charge and did not appear in court, whilst, Whitlow Mugwiji, appeared in court facing charges of contempt of court

In related events, another student at GZU Ogyliv Makova, was arrested in connection with the disturbances that led to the arrest of his colleagues, he was detained on the 13th of September, and spend 3 nights in police custody. He was released and signed a warned and cautioned statement.

The onslaught on student activists in Masvingo continued unabated when police arrested two student leaders for the second time in a space of two weeks. Whitlow Mugwiji, who had been detained on September 11, was again arrested for trespassing. He was arrested alongside Courage Ngwarai, Secretary for legal affairs. They were arrested on the 23rd of September. The two were released and made to sign warned and cautioned statement.

The University of Zimbabwe opened with an escalation of the conflict between the students and the administration, and true to the hard-line stance of the Nyagura administration, students trying to exercise their right to free assembly and speech were either suspended or tortured.

On the 5th of August, Shadreck Vengesai was arrested and detained at Avondale Police Station for distributing fliers alerting students to the looming accommodation crisis at the University of Zimbabwe. He was released without charged.

On the 18th of September, students at the University of Zimbabwe organized for protests against the escalating accommodation crisis at the campus. Lovemore Chinoputsa, the Students Executive Council (SEC) President and Fortune Chamba, the SEC Secretary General were arrested and detained at Avondale Police Station for one night, and were released after signing warned and cautioned statement.

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