ZANASU demands release of 333 Hone students

UNZA students during protest at the main campus in Lusaka last year-Picture by Tenson Mkhala

Zambia National Students Union has demanded the release of 333 Evelyn Hone students who were arrested for protesting poor results saying they have a constitutional right to air their grievances.

On Wednesday afternoon, police apprehended 126 students who were marching to TEVETA to demand answers on their poor results.

Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri confirmed to News Diggers! that the students were arrested for breaching peace.

“I don’t know who but we have arrested 126 students from Evelyn hone college for breaching the peace. [We arrested them] this afternoon,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement released, Thursday, Police Spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo has disclosed that 207 more students were arrested for protesting around 23:00 hours yesterday, bringing the total number of those in detention to 333.

“Police in Lusaka arrested 207 more students in the Evelyn Hone riot which happened last night at about 23:00 hours. This brings the total number of those arrested to 333. Among the 207 arrested last night, 119 are male while 88 are female students. The students were repelled from going to the main road and later caused damage to the infrastructure at their school particularly the institutional Clinic and Administration block. They further pulled down the wall fence that demarcates Evelyn Hone and NIPA also the one that demarcates Evelyn Hone and ZICAS,” stated Katongo.

“We have information that some of the students from NIPA participated in the confusion while there was none from ZICAS. Officers are still screening the students so as to establish the number of those coming from other institutions. All are detained in police custody.
We wish to advise the students at Evelyn Hone especially their Students Union to find amicable ways of addressing their grievance and the best approach would be to engage relevant authorities. As Police, we are not going to tolerate any lawlessness and those found outside the boundaries of what the Law provides for will be dealt with accordingly.”

The students are currently detained at Central Police.

But in a statement yesterday, ZANASU secretary general Wickson Mwenya stated that it was within the students’ rights to protest.

“It is with our greatest displeasure that we write to you concerning the recent happening that was attributed to the state police regarding the arrest of Evelyn Hone College students Union president and his colleagues. First and foremost, the state police and the public at large should know that the primary mandate of the Union is to provide representation to fellow students who co-exist in diversity within and outside the respective institutions of learning. This objective is historically being the instrument of promoting dialogue, oneness and consensus between students and the society and we strongly believe that the measure that was taken by the police to arrest these students whom we believe did not incite any form of violence at any point will potentially break the chain of dialogue and inclusiveness in the process of decision making,” Mwenya stated.

“Why should our colleagues be arrested like criminals for speaking out on the irregularities and un professionalism of the examinations body and the dramatic increase in tuition fees when in fact they were exercising their rights? The fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly which in any way did not cause public unrest? We are afraid that we are not giving respect to what we consider to be the foundation of mother Zambia. We are not giving respect to democracy which gives a platform for people to freely speak out on issues they feel are affecting them. And I strongly believe with whole my heart that these students were voicing out on matters which really matter to them. We demand that these students be released so that they can continue to enjoy their academic freedoms and other related freedoms.”

         

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