THREE Zimbabwean students have been arrested in Cyprus on allegations of drug trafficking 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.
This was revealed by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson on Foreign Affairs, Cde Kindness Paradza while addressing the Bulawayo Press Club on Friday. Cde Paradza said the Government was engaging the Turkish embassy in Zimbabwe over the matter. Turkey controls the Northern part of Cyprus where most Zimbabweans are studying.
Cde Paradza said a number of locals were falling prey to dubious agencies based in Harare who were offering fake university scholarships to study in Cyprus. He said most students were left stranded in the island country resulting in them engaging in criminal activities to survive and pay for their tuition.
“We are currently engaging the Turkish embassy as a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the Foreign Affairs Ministry on these three students that were arrested in Cyprus on drug allegation charges, we remain hopeful that our discussions will be fruitful.
“However, I must bring to light these Harare agencies that are advertising in the newspapers claiming to be offering scholarships in Cyprus, these are fake scholarships because when our Zimbabwean children get to Cyprus they are faced with the reality that there are no such scholarships and then are forced into the tough life of prostitution for our girls and drug trafficking, mainly for our boys,” said Paradza.
He said the problem was further exacerbated by the cash shortages in the country, noting that it was making it difficult for parents to send money to their children.
“It is really worrying because we have between 3 000 to 4 000 of our students studying in that country, majority of whom fall prey to these fake agencies, of which after being swindled parents here in Zimbabwe are now being forced to actually send money to their children to finish the courses they would have enrolled in.
“However, with the cash crisis and our laws pertaining to sending money out of the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to bail out their children hence we have been talking to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to see how parents can be able to send money to their children because frankly they are suffering out there,” said Cde Paradza.
He further called on Zimbabweans in the diaspora to avoid being used as drug couriers saying it was difficult for the Zimbabwean Government to negotiate on their behalf as the perpetrators would be tried according to the laws of the country they would have been arrested in.
“What I must emphasise is that drug trafficking is illegal even here in Zimbabwe, hence when you are caught you are charged using the laws of that very country where you would have been arrested in. I therefore urge Zimbabweans not to be used as couriers,” said Paradza.
Last year the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development reported that close to 200 Zimbabweans, mostly women, were arrested outside the country for drug trafficking.- state media