Police Teargassing Of Rooms At UNZA As Students Put out fire Lead to Vespers death
A Human Rights Commission investigation into the student protests on the 4th and 5th of October 2019 has established that Vespers Shimuzhila died to due suffocation from carbon monoxide intoxication.
The Commission Chairperson, Mudford Mwandenga, issued a statement outlining that doctors and witnesses were interview and the post mortem clearly indicated suffocation due to carbon monoxide.
Mr. Mwandenga said the Police were seen driving into UNZA Premises around midnight on 4th October 2018 and officers were seen jumping off a Green Nissan Police Vehicle and two other Land Cruisers, one of them labelled, “Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Police Station”.
He said according to witnesses, gunshots were heard in UNZA Campus and police officers were seen throwing suspected hand held-grenades and firing tear gas canisters into students’ rooms through windows and a total of six students’ rooms where tear gas canisters were fired into were gutted by fire.
Mr. Mwandenga said the Commission heard that as the fire in Hostel 2 Room 21 was being put out by some students, some police officers repeatedly tear gassed the students who were attempting to put out the fire and also rescuing their colleagues that were trapped in the rooms, causing October Hostel 2 Room 3, to also catch fire.
He said October Hostel 2, Room 25, which was occupied by eight female students, was heavily affected by flames and fumes from Room 21 which was on fire and some eight female students escaped by climbing down through the window while 23 year old Everntyn Choongo, jumped from the room, which is on the third level of the building and suffered multiple fractures, including a broken lower spine.
Mr. Mwandenga said another student, Trudie Kalimbwe, who was the last to leave room 25 alive, suffered burns on her hands and hair before escaping through the door and regrettably, Vespers Shimuzhila, could not escape and was found unconscious by fellow students who braved the reported continued tear gassing.
He said vespers was rushed to UNZA Clinic where she was pronounced as brought in dead and her body was transferred to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital before being transferred to UTH Mortuary.
The State should further compensate Everntyn Choongo for the serious injuries she suffered resulting in her paralysis. The state should also extend the compensation of medical and incidental expenses to other students who were injured during the UNZA Police operation.