HARARE - Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) protesters yesterday clashed with police as scores of students marched through central Harare in a rally calling for a slash in tuition fees and the return of student grants and loans.
Fifteen female demonstrators were arrested following scuffles with police along the route to Parliament.
Dozens of officers moved in and clashed with some placard-waving demonstrators.
A number of the students were seriously injured in the deadly clashes with baton-wielding police.
The march started at Rezende Street at around 2pm, with the students singing, chanting slogans and waving placards demanding a review of tuition fees.
Three truckloads of police in riot gear swooped on the protestors and turned the situation into a mini-war zone, with many onlookers taking to their heels.
A gun-toting police officer barricaded Nelson Mandela Avenue, directing all cars to stop as his colleagues descended on female students, indiscriminately battering them, including some who were physically challenged.
Undeterred by the police heavy-handedness, Zinasu spokesperson Avoid Masiraha said they will continue with their demonstrations until government addresses their problems.
A further day of action is being planned to focus on the ill-treatment of students.
The militant students’ union vowed to step up strike action seeking the reinstatement of grants and student support.
“We are not going to stop, as for this one it was organised by female students and we want to hand over our petition to Parliament,” Masiraha said.
The students’ leader described what happened yesterday as a sign that “police do not respect human rights”.
“We want to tell the police that they must stop their habit of beating up people.
“We have the right to demonstrate and they must read the Constitution. Look, some of the arrested students are writing their exams and they will be affected,” a tough-talking Masiraha said.