Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kitwe police disperse protesting Copperbelt University students

Kitwe police disperse protesting Copperbelt University students
By Zumani Katasefa
Saturday July 21, 2007 [04:00]

POLICE in Kitwe yesterday morning fired teargas canisters to disperse protesting Copperbelt University (CBU) students. Kitwe district police commanding officer Muhlakeni Zulu confirmed the development in an interview yesterday and said police had even surrounded the university campus to prevent further confusion.

Zulu said police were forced to move in after the students gathered on one of the roads with the aim of disturbing public peace.

“Yes we used teargas to disperse them, that is our weapon. Why should they disturb other people’s peace? And we are at CBU to protect property and public peace,” said Zulu.

He explained that the previous night, the students had a general meeting at the campus to discuss a number of issues among them the lecturers’ go-slow and to lobby for an early closure.

He also said that the students were demanding that the university senate reduces the passing rate.

But Copperbelt University Student Union (COBUSU) vice-president Chikumbutso Zulu condemned police action saying that it was unjustified.

He said students were not protesting about the lectures’ go- slow but protesting against the proposed university senate regulations for students’ progression rate.

“The senate proposed regulations, especially one which they stated that a student would need to have grade C+ or better in all the courses for one to progress to the following year,” he said.

He said after the proposals were made, the students held a general meeting at which they resolved to put pressure on management and lecturers to resolve the issue.

He said students had resolved to close the gates of the university campus in protest, and that this attracted police who moved and tear-gassed them.

He also claimed that a first year student pursing business administration /accounts collapsed after police fired teargas canisters while five others were admitted to Pamsco clinic.

“Our issue is an internal one, we wonder why the police are coming in. They have surrounded the campus for the past four days,” he complained.

But police commanding officer Muhalakeni Zulu said no one had collapsed or injured after police fired teargas.

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