Police yesterday raided the Copperbelt University and brutally beat up students who were found outside and those whose doors they managed to break down.
Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga confirmed the raid to News Diggers! in an interview saying 53 students were arrested but claimed no student was beaten.
Tension at CBU began on Tuesday when lecturers downed tools over delayed November salaries whilst students rioted over nonpayment of term-two meal allowances.
The lecturers’ union yesterday returned to work after government paid their salaries but students were not so lucky.
Government, through Vice-Chancellor Naison Ngoma dissolved COBUSU on grounds that they were fuelling unrest at the institution and students told News Diggers! that government had also suspended the payment of meal allowances indefinitely.
Students who sought anonymity narrated that police brutally beat up students around 23:50 hours yesterday.
“After we heard the news of the dissolution of the union, people went to the road side for a short time and they came back to school and it was quiet. There was no riot of any kind. Students were just making noise in school. I think the police had already planned to come and beat us. They came on campus around 23:50 and started breaking doors and started beating students. It was fast and brutal. They were beating anyone outside and breaking doors. They tried the door to our room twice, luckily it didn’t open. Students were beaten really badly, they cried like babies. If you go to the clinic, there’s blood from people’s injuries,” students narrated.
But Katanga said police pursued students after they had become violent and started throwing stones.
“No I can’t confirm that police were beating up students but what I know what happened, I can say between yesterday and this morning, police had gone there to keep vigil of the situation of the unrest at the same place. And when they [police] had assembled after they saw that the situation was quiet and they were trying to go away [but] they [students] started throwing stones. And that’s how students were pursued and apprehended. One police officer was even injured on the arm,” Katanga said.
Asked if the police had beaten up students, Katanga said no student was injured but confirmed that 53 were arrested.
“Police had even withdrawn from there. When they were trying to go, the students followed up and started making noise that ‘you think we are going to sleep’ and then they started throwing stones and that’s how they were pursued. And 53 students were arrested. No, to the best of my knowledge, there was no student who was injured. Pursuing them yes they pursued them. If they pursue them and they run to the room, they have a right to pursue them,” said Katanga.