The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has blamed the death of a university student in Harare last week on the use of brutal force by the national police force, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

Batanai Hadzidzi, a 21-year-old student at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, died April 9 after being bludgeoned by baton-wielding policemen deployed to the campus to crush student demonstrations over low government grants for students.

Students receive grants of the equivalent of US$130 maximum a term. However, three meals a day from the newly privatised university canteen cost US$144 a term.

The police stormed the university campus shortly after 1 a.m. on April 9, after running battles with the students throughout the previous day.

The university's vice-chancellor, Graham Hill, and university students have blamed the police for using excessive force to break up what they described as peaceful demonstrations.

Several students were injured when officers fired pellets and tear-gas into residence halls and on the campus grounds. Thirty-four students were arrested and have since appeared in court on charges of public violence.

The police have denied killing Hadzidzi, claiming he was trampled in a stampede of fleeing students.

Tarcisius Zimbiti, director of the CCJP—a human rights group supported by the Roman Catholic Church—said in a statement that brutal force was an unacceptable means of creating order. "This has resulted in the untimely death of one of the students," said Zimbiti. "A culture of violence does not build a united family."

The CCJP called on Herbert Murerwa, Zimbabwe's minister of higher education, as well as the university council and senate and the Student Executive Council to create an environment conducive ...

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