University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice-chancellor, Levi Nyagura, yesterday bowed down to pressure and permitted evicted medical students to return to their halls of residence following threats of contempt of court charges by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR).
BY CHARLES LAITON
ZHLR lawyers, Belinda Chinowawa and Doug Coltart, had a hectic day trying to ensure compliance of High Court judge, Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa’s order issued on June 28, 2017.
In a letter yesterday, ZLHR said Nyagura’s conduct amounted to contempt of court.
“Reference is made to case number HC5758/17, wherein Justice Munangati-Manongwa issued a provisional order on June 28, 2017,” the lawyers wrote.
“The terms of this interim order require you (Nyagura) to permit all medical students to return to halls of residence with immediate effect.
“However, you have failed to comply with the court order and campus security has actively prevented students from re-entering their halls of residence stating that they have not yet received a directive that students should be allowed back into residence.
“In our view, this conduct constitutes contempt of court by yourself as well as every employee of the UZ that has in some way participated in the failure to comply with the court order. This letter serves to demand your full compliance with the court order immediately and by no later than 12pm on Friday June 30, 2017 (yesterday).”
The lawyers warned Nyagura’s failure to comply with the court order would leave them with no option, but to approach the court again seeking his incarceration.
Coltart told NewsDay Weekender yesterday that the institution was not prepared to let the students in, but later buckled under pressure.
“It seems clear to me that the university had no intention of complying with the court order despite its assurance that it would. The senior staff claimed that they were complying, while security officers, wardens and janitors claimed they had no official communication from the senior staff,” Coltart said.
“It was only when they faced the threat of being held liable for contempt of court did they buckle under pressure and gave instructions to security officers to allow the students into the residences.”
UZ authorities could not be reached for comment.
Early this week, the medical students were ejected from the institution after protesting against the increase in tuition fees.
The matter was taken to court, where an order compelling Nyagura to permit them to return to their halls was granted.
However, when the students returned to the college, they were denied entry by security personnel, prompting the lawyers to write a letter of demand, requesting Nyagura to comply or risk contempt of court charges in his personal