On September 18, 2020, unidentified individuals reportedly attacked members of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and journalists during a press conference.
Starting on September 8, ZINASU organized student demonstrations at the Impala Car Rental offices in Harare to demand that the company respond to allegations that its vehicles were used by state security agents to abduct citizens, including journalist Tawanda Muchehiwa. Muchehiwa was reportedly held in an undisclosed location for three days and subjected to torture before being returned home. On September 10, police arrested the ZINASU president, Takudzwa Ngadziore, in apparent retaliation for his participation in the demonstration (see report). On September 14, Ngadziore was released on the condition that he stay at least 100 meters away from the Impala Car Rental’s offices.
On September 18, Ngadziore and his ZINASU peers held a press conference 101 meters away from the Impala Car Rental’s offices. During the press conference, unidentified individuals reportedly assaulted Ngadziore, his peers, and journalists. The individuals reportedly broke the journalists’ cameras and recorders and abducted Ngadziore before bringing him to the police station, where police reportedly took Ngadziore back into custody. On October 16, Ngadziore was released on a 5,000 ZWL ($60 USD) bail from Harare Remand Prison on the condition he stay at least 500 meters away from the Impala Car Rental offices, report to the police station every week, and stay away from public gatherings.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack on students and journalists, and the detention of a student activist, in apparent retaliation for expressive activity. State authorities should take all available steps to investigate such incidents, hold perpetrators responsible, and protect against attacks on students, scholars, and other members of the higher education community. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students, particularly in retaliation for their expressive activity, undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.