NATIONAL University of Science and Technology (Nust) students on Wednesday called police and claimed to have been held hostage by the institution after they were locked up in the library as librarians joined a strike by the institution’s staff.
The library staff are reported to have told students to leave the library at 4pm, but they insisted that the library closed at 9pm and they would not leave.
The students and the staff are reported to have exchanged harsh words, before the learners left the main library to continue studying in the building’s basement.
But the staff members would have none of it and locked the premises, and left.
After a while, the students, realising they had been locked in, called police officers, telling them they had been held hostage by the library staff.
Some students told Southern Eye that they were detained in the library for more than an hour until cops were called to ease escalating tensions.
One of the students, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said what the university authorities were doing was unfair because they had paid fees in full for this semester, so they had a right to access university facilities.
“We are urging them to open the library and call off the strike immediately, because we cannot have library staff members depriving us our future,” the learner said.
“Once the strike ends, our lecturers will be demanding their assignments, so how do they expect us to research.”
Other students said they were threatened and told that they would be suspended for their actions of refusing to leave the library and they would be expelled from the institution.
Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe National Students’ Union provincial chairperson Alistar Pfunye said students were right to demand the use of the library, as they had paid for the facility.
“Students are correct and they must be treated fairly by library staff members because the same workers would have been on the streets selling airtime and tomatoes had the students not been there,” he said.
Over the last week, staff from various tertiary institutions have gone on strike, demanding their salaries and last year’s bonuses.
A staff member from the communications and marketing department, Lindiwe Nyoni, said there was no chaos at the library, but students failed to understand that the library was short-staffed and had to close earlier than the stipulated times.
“Some of the students went to the basement to do their school work, as a result they were locked inside by members of staff, resulting in them calling police saying they had been held hostage as there was no way out of the library,” she said.
“I think there is nothing to write about, you can drop the story.”