Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cops shoot at UNZA students

Cops shoot at UNZA students
By Patson Chilemba and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday May 24, 2008 [04:00]

POLICE in Lusaka yesterday shot and wounded two University of Zambia (UNZA) students during a protest at the Great East Road campus. Chewe Chisala, a second year-student in the School of Engineering and Samuel Nasilele, a second year student in the School of Education, were shot during the protest where students were demanding an increment in meal allowances from the current K300,000 to K600,000.

The incident occurred around 11:00 hours on the campus grounds as police tried to control the students that were throwing stones and shouting. The two students were rushed to UNZA Clinic by their friends where they were attended to and later referred to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

And one of the health workers at UNZA clinic said the students were shot using live bullets.

"Certainly, they used live bullets because one went through the leg and the other one they shot in the chest. You can feel the particles of the metal," said the health worker.

UTH public relations manager Pauline Mbangweta confirmed that the two students suffered gunshot wounds. She said Chisala suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and that his condition was stable. However, Mbangweta said Nasilele - who suffered a wound in the chest - was not in a stable condition.

University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) vice-president Duncan Nyirongo demanded that police officers who shot at the students be brought to book. He said it was unacceptable that police could use live bullets against unarmed students, especially that they conducted their protest within campus grounds.

Acting deputy commissioner of police Emmanuel Chileshe said police would carry out investigations once they established that officers used live bullets against students. Chileshe said police were not allowed to use live bullets to disperse demonstrators. By press time, police were still keeping vigil at UNZA and students were waiting to be addressed by management.

Meanwhile, pupils at Lusaka's Kamwala High School yesterday protested over a decision by school authorities to introduce K50,000 clearance allowances. The pupils also protested over the lack of water at the school for the last four days.

And school head teacher Joel Kunkunta refused to comment on the confusion, referring all comments to the Ministry of Education headquarters.

According to eyewitnesses, the pupils trooped to Chilimbulu Road early morning and started throwing 'missiles'. But quick intervention by state police prevented the situation from degenerating into chaos.

A number of pupils spoken to accused Kunkuta of abusing the authority of his office by imposing a K50,000 clearance fee for all grade 12 pupils. The pupils alleged that Kunkunta wanted to buy a 4x4 vehicle from the money.

The pupils also alleged that most of the teachers at the school were in full support of the pupils' move as they too were discontent with the manner Kunkunta was running school affairs.

"The headmaster told us that the minibus that picks him from his home is too big and that's why he needed to buy a 4X4 vehicle," one pupil said. "But how can he buy such an expensive vehicle when the school has no proper facilities like running water in the toilets despite the fact that the school has a borehole... and every day we have to draw water from the drum. It's not healthy. And besides, this school already has a Canter light truck and a minibus, so why buy another vehicle and not just buying books for library?"

When reached for comment, Kunkunta said: "I can't issue a statement on the matter. You have to get permission from headquarters Ministry of Education before I could talk you."

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