The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) condemns the acts of brutality against student demonstrators by Zambian police which has resulted in the killing of a 4th year student at the University of Zambia on October 5, 2018.
According to local media reports, police allegedly fired teargas canisters into students’ hostels during demonstrations over unpaid students’ allowances.
Vespers Shimuzhila, a female student who was stuck in her room, at October Hostel died on from suffocation as she was unable to escape the smoke. Vespers who was also asthmatic died at the Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital where she was rushed for treatment.
Meanwhile, thousands of students of the University of Zambia on Monday, October 8, 2018 held a peaceful demonstration in hononour of their late colleague Vespers Shimuzhila. The students, who were dressed in black, sang solemn songs and held placards denouncing police brutality against students in videos and images seen on social media.
Several local, regional and human rights organisations have since condemned the police’s actions and are demanding justice for Vespers.
AFEX wished to add its voice to the call on the government of Zambia to ensure justice for the family of Vespers. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family, Vespers has left behind. It is unfortunate that the life of a young woman had to end in such an abrupt manner due to police brutalities against students exercising their legitimate right to freedom of assembly which is enshrined in the Constitution of Zambia as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (ICCPR).
We call on the police hierarchy to investigate into the issue and bring the perpetrators to book. AFEX also urges students of the UNZA to exercise restraint during demonstrations.