POLICE PROBE UNZA STUDENT’S DEATH
.. as HH told not to use Vespers’s death for political expediency
POLICE in Lusaka have instituted inquiries to ascertain what caused the fire that led to suffocation and death of fourt year University of Zambia student, Vespers Shimuzhila, police spokesperson Esther Katongo has disclosed. And President Edgar Lungu is waiting for a report from Police on the death of Vespers once investigations are concluded. He said this yesterday at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) before departure for Uganda for the Great Lakes Region Head of State Summit. Meanwhile, New Congress Party (NCP) president Peter Chanda has advised UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to stop using the death of Vespers for political expediency. Ms Katongo told the Daily Nation yesterday that in every death that was unnatural inquiries in that death was usually done. “Yes an inquiry has been instituted. In every death that is unnatural, inquiries in the death is usually done,” Ms Katongo stated. Meanwhile, Mr Chanda was reacting to a posting of pictures of Mr Hichilema’s visit to the funeral house of the late UNZA student where some UPND sympathizers were seen putting on party regalia and where the UPND leader charged that the loss of life was entirely a PF affair because it would have been avoided had meal allowances been paid to the students in time. But Mr Chanda said it was morally wrong for Mr Hichilema or any other politician to use the death of Vespers to gain political mileage. “As NCP first and foremost, we want to convey our deepest condolences to the family Vespers Shimuzhila who died of suffocation following a riot. But at the same time we would like to express our displeasure and disappointment at some political party leaders like Hakainde Hichilema who are using the death of a student to gain political mileage. “We want to advise HH and indeed other political leaders to stop using the death of, Vespers Shimuzhila for political expediency. Let us as Christian mourn our dear departed sister in a dignified manner. We are disappointed that HH went to the funeral house with his cadres some of whom were seen wearing UPND regalia and we don’t think it was right for HH to go at the funeral house and get pictures and later send them online, that shows the man was acting to gain political mileage,” Mr Chanda said. And University of Zambia Lecturers’ and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU) claims that failure by Government and the University of Zambia (UNZA) management to condemn in strongest terms the conduct of the police in mob management and the alleged discharge of teargas canisters into student rooms was not only unfortunate but also indirectly legitimatizes police brutality and Government’s indifference to the plight of UNZA students. In a statement yesterday, UNZALARU secretary general Kelvin Mambwe said the press statements by both UNZA and the Police were overly insensitive to the memory of Vespers as both downplayed the sacredness of life, as they have been deliberately crafted to demonize students as merely riotous. Dr Mambwe noted with a deep sense of sorrow and regret that a life of a student for whom UNZA as an institution of learning could be lost in such brutal and bizarre circumstances. He disclosed that it was not the first time teargas canisters have been fired into rooms and rooms gutted at UNZA. Meanwhile, Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya has wondered why the student demonstrated two days before allowances’ due date and challenged the police to institute inquiry into the death of Vespers and bring those responsible to book. “Why is it that students were demonstrating two days before allowances’ due date? Why were they demonstrating at night throwing stones at cars? Why have police not instituted inquiry into the death of the student yet? Who is responsible for this unnecessary loss of life?” Ms Siliya asked. And the Government has evacuated the injured female student Everntyn Chongo to South Africa for specialist treatment. Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya made the pronouncement when he visited her at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) yesterday. Everntyn, who is in her second year jumped off the second floor of her hostel on Thursday night after being trapped in her room that was engulfed in smoke during riots. And Everntyn’s father Geoffrey Chongo has thanked Government for its quick intervention to evacuate his daughter to South Africa for specialised treatment. “I appreciate the decision that Government has made to evacuate my daughter,” Mr Chongo said.