Nust students kidnapped, held hostage over taxi fare

A Zimbabwean street vendor sorts new coins in front of a bank in Harare

Andile Tshuma and Allen Khumalo, Chronicle Reporters
A COMMUTTER omnibus crew allegedly kidnapped 18 National University of Science and Technology (Nust) students on Friday night and held them hostage at a house in Bulawayo’s Paddonhurst suburb for more than one hour.

The students had allegedly refused to pay a 50 cents fare to the city centre from campus, in line with the Bulawayo Public Transporters Association (Bupta)’s recent announcement that students would be charged 30 cents.

The conductor of the Bupta affiliated kombi is alleged to have demanded 50 cents around 8PM.

An argument allegedly ensued as the students refused to pay the extra 20 cents.

The driver is alleged to have stopped at Mac’s Garage along Gwanda Road where he locked the kombi and threatened to beat the students saying he is used to dealing with people who refuse to pay fares.

When the students did not give in to the threats, the driver allegedly sped off, threatening to dump the students at a bush far away from the city centre.

“We thought he was going to kill us over 20 cents. We were so scared and some of us sent messages to our parents telling them we were being kidnapped. Later I sent them the registration number of the kombi, which was ACZ 8741,” said a student on condition of anonymity.

The driver sped to his employer’s house in Paddonhurst where he parked the locked kombi.

Miss Gamuchirai Mahendere, one of the students said she feared for her life when she saw the driver diverting to Paddonhurst. She said she stays in Hillside suburb and she had to hire a taxi to take her home because there were no lifts after 10pm when the crew released them.

The kombi owner, identified only as Mr Gondwe drove the students back to the CBD after one of them threatened to call the police.

The students said the incident had traumatised them and they would avoid boarding kombis at night.

Bupta Chairperson Mr Albert Ncube said the matter would be investigated today.

He said he suspected the kombi involved does not have the permit to ply the City centre-Nust route.

“The driver risks being fired as kidnapping and holding people hostage is a criminal offence. We do not condone or tolerate such conduct,” said Mr Ncube.

In a letter to Nust student representative council last month Bupta said it had slashed fares from 50 cents to 30 cents to help students who are struggling financially.

“Looking at the financial situation in our country whereby cash is very scarce and difficult to get, Bupta Ltd has seen it fit to reduce fares for you as students. Every morning starting Tuesday 19/09/2017 Bupta will deploy 100 kombis or even more depending on your numbers from City Hall to the university for only 30 cents,” the Bupta letter reads.

The decision which was a cause for celebration for Nust students did not go down well with Expricos Taxis drivers who said the fare reduction amounted to unfair competition .

The drivers at one time tried to block Bupta kombis from picking students from the campus.

@andile_tshuma

@khumzallen

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  • Shlama

    Kombi crew is usually 2 people. TRYING to imagine 2 peoples kidnapping 18

    • musa

      guess you have never been in a vehicle driven by someone. what would you do when the vehicle is in motion? jump out? assault the driver? & when the kombi had stopped at Mac’s garage the doors where locked. how would you have handled the situation? on second thoughts don’t bother answering, just ignore me.

      • Maphila Samuel Nhlabatsi

        Those creatures are the same

    • regie

      MaNdex are cowards. 18 adult maNdex can even be kidnapped by a baby.

      • trish

        just to entertain your tribal bull…are you aware that nust has almost 90% shona speaking students the reason for that well its a topic for another day…

        • big

          Even if we are going to say attention must be paid to Mat schools to invest in science subjects bla bla bla as has been said before by many good pundits, as long as Zim politics remains in shambles as it is, no one will listen and nothing will change. Everything, economy, education, social, employment, industry is just waiting for the same thing, serious political change. As long as the top echelons remain the same selfish people only focused on fattening themselves, building mansions etc, all sectors are headed one direction, downwards.

      • Thiza

        Dont be crazy regie. Those Nust students are actually Shona- all of them for that matter. who does not know that? Not becuase maNdex are not capable of being there though.

      • Question Mark?

        Not Ndechus.You know that. Would the headline not read something like: “Front teeth battered for 20cents”, “Attempted Kidnapping Trauma” OR ‘Combi Crew skulls fractured for 20cents” OR ” Headbutted for 20 cents fare hike” or “Trumatised for diverting route” OR Rogue Combi blazed at owner’s house”

      • mqhafi

        I guess GAMUCHIRAI MAHENDERE was the only exception!!!!!

    • makhosi

      NUST cry babies.

      • Maphila Samuel Nhlabatsi

        Inherrent biological and thus, societal gynocentrism at work.

  • big

    It’s a fact that after hours kombis tend to charge extra. So if you planning on going for your Friday night out, be prepared to part with up to a dollar for your returns trip. However, before driving off, it would have made sense for the kombi crew to make it clear to the students that they expect an extra 20c since it’s after hours and they are probably working overtime.

  • big

    Best way going forward is to make sure before they board they make sure the fare will be as expected, in this case 30c, else they protest by not even boarding. Any form of violence is dangerous and can lead to injury or death on both sides.

  • Maphila Samuel Nhlabatsi

    It doesn’t seem a whole lot different than marriage to me except for the contract length