Heal Zimbabwe is gravely concerned by the use of violence by the police to disperse protesting National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students on 26 February 2018. The students were protesting over the continued strike by lecturers which was affecting their academic studies.
As a way of responding to the protest, police used tear smoke canisters and water cannons to disperse students. The police also unleashed dogs on the unassuming students injuring several of them. A total of 61 students were arrested. Heal Zimbabwe notes that crushing peaceful demonstrations using brute force is not only barbaric but unconstitutional. Freedom to petition and demonstrate is provided for in Section 59 of the constitution that stipulate that, “every person has the right to demonstrate and present a petition.”
Heal Zimbabwe urges the police to desist from resorting to arbitrary arrests as a means of crushing demonstrations but rather find peaceful and non-violent means that help address concerns raised by protestors. Heal Zimbabwe also implores college authorities to find amenable solutions to students concerns and adhere to democratic principles such as creating safe places of higher learning where students enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Heal Zimbabwe further calls for the setting up of an Independent Complaints mechanism as provided for in section 210 of the Constitution. The Complaints mechanism is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.