Zimbabwe to engage Turkey over jailed drug trafficking students

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THE Government is seeking the release and extradition of three Zimbabwean students who are held in prison in Cyprus for drug trafficking.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs Cde Kindness Paradza last week said the Government would send emissaries to Turkey to negotiate for the release of the trio.

Turkey controls the Northern part of Cyprus where the three students are serving sentences.

“Efforts are being made to try and send (embassy) officers to Cyprus via Turkey.

“We are trying to engage Turkish authorities to at least release these kids and allow them to be transferred to Zimbabwe and serve their sentences here. The prison conditions there are not safe for them (the students).”

He said his committee was also engaging the Turkish Ambassador to Zimbabwe over the same matter.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs last week interviewed three agencies that recruit and offer scholarships to local students to study abroad. Ruothey Edu, Global Careers and Eskard Consulting appeared before the committee on Tuesday last week.

The meeting came in the wake of revelations that a number of Zimbabwean students studying in Cyprus were being forced into crime and prostitution after being offered fake university scholarships.

Cde Paradza said during the meeting, it emerged that the agencies were merely registered as shelf companies and had no permission from the Government to recruit students for foreign universities.

He said the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development should investigate all agencies that recruit students.

“We are recommending the relevant ministry to get to the bottom of this whole thing and if possible close these agencies. We will engage the ministry.

“What we discovered was that these agencies are just registered companies under the Companies Act but don’t have any other authorisation to engage in this sort of specialised area,” he said.

Cde Paradza said the portfolio committee also managed to interview some Zimbabwean students studying in Cyprus who are doing their industrial attachment in Zimbabwe.

“The students told us that the major problem they’re facing was lack of representation in Cyprus.

“When they are abused they’ve no one to report to and sometimes when they report, because of the language barrier, their cases are not treated fairly.”

Cde Paradza warned parents against letting their children enrol at foreign universities using local recruitment agencies.

He said prospective students should also be careful when applying for scholarships to study abroad.

“Most of these agencies are bogus and offer fake scholarships. Some of the universities where the agencies send our children are not even recognised by the Zimbabwe Council for High Education (ZiMCHE).

“Parents should be careful before sending their children to these universities. They should check with the relevant ministry, if the scholarships are genuine and the universities are recognised before sending their children,” he said.

A number of locals have been falling prey to dubious agencies based in Harare who offer university scholarships to study in Cyprus with most students ending up stranded in the island country.

Majority of the desperate students reportedly end up engaging in criminal activities to survive and pay for their tuition.

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