By Tinomuda Chakanyuka
Eight Zimbabwean students have been arrested in Cyprus on allegations of armed robbery, bringing to 12 the number of Zimbabwean students arrested for serious crimes in that country, a Zimbabwean legislator has confirmed.
The eight allegedly robbed 15 houses and five shops in Lefko and Girne districts in a space of three months and were nabbed last month.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson on Foreign Affairs, Cde Kindness Paradza last week confirmed the arrest of the eight students on robbery charges but could not reveal the names of the accused persons.
Press reports from Cyprus identified the eight as Wishad Junior Mpavaenda, Brian Prayer Mutakura, Fungai Marshall Mangondoza, Fortune Takudzwa Rutsito, Munyaradzi Raphael Musango, Charles Kabirou Effiom, Michael Matsikiti and Hillary Ngonbadang Tanwie.
Of the eight, five have since been released after an investigation concluded that they were not connected to the robberies which occurred between 13 December 2017 and 13 March 2018 and it was not clear when the three would appear in court.
Cde Paradza said more Zimbabwean students have been in trouble with authorities in Cyprus for petty crimes.
He said his committee was seeking clearance from the Government to send a delegation to Cyprus to assess the situation with the view of having the arrested students repatriated.
“My Committee has approached the new Minister of Foreign Affairs (Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo (Retired) for us to get clearance so that we send a delegation to Cyprus as soon as possible. He says he is consulting H.E (His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa).
“Several students have been arrested. Some of the cases are petty thefts like in supermarkets. But serious ones are about 12 including those three serving in jail,” he said.
The arrest of Zimbabwean students in Cyprus comes amid revelations that a number of Zimbabwean students studying in that country are being forced into crime and prostitution after being offered fake university scholarships.
Last year the Government made efforts to engage Turkish authorities on the possible release of three students who were arrested on drug trafficking charges but the efforts were yet to yield results as the trio are still in prison.
Turkey controls the northern part of Cyprus where a number of Zimbabwean students are studying.
Thousands of Zimbabwean students are reportedly in distress in North Cyprus after being lured by private universities on the pretext of being awarded scholarships.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs has been on record discouraging Zimbabweans from taking up scholarship offers from dubious agencies to study abroad.
Last year three agencies, Ruothey Edu, Global Careers and Eskard Consultancy that recruit and offer scholarships to local students to study abroad were interviewed.
It emerged, during the meeting, that the agencies were merely registered as shelf companies and had no permission from the Government to recruit students on behalf of foreign universities.
A number of Zimbabwean students studying in Cyprus are reportedly desperate and end up engaging in criminal activities to survive and pay for their tuition after being dumped by the agencies that would have offered them scholarships. The Sunday News