Eyewitness News reporter detained in Swaziland ahead of planned mass protests
12 April 2011
An Eyewitness News reporter has been taken into custody by police in Swaziland. Nastasya Tay and Tshepo Lesole are in the kingdom to cover today’s [12 April 2011] planned mass protests in Manzini.
Early today, police were conducting stop-and-search operations on the roads leading into the town and on Monday several opposition figures were reportedly raided by authorities.
Thousands of people are expected to gather in Manzini on Tuesday morning for a rally against the country’s government.
The details around Tay’s arrest are still unclear. She sent an sms to Eyewitness News Editor in Chief Katy Katopodis at 7.27am which read "taken by police.”
When called immediately after the sms, she was able to whisper into the phone that she was in a police vehicle before the line went dead.
Eyewitness News has informed the Department of International of the arrest. It is still unclear if Lesole is with her.
Meanwhile, Swaziland’s Foreign Minister Lutfo Dlamini was in South Africa last week.
He held a media briefing and Eyewitness News questioned him about media freedom in his country. He said the press was free in that country and invited Eyewitness News to his country to experience this freedom.
At the same time, thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in Manzini today to demand better wages and demand the removal of King Mswati III. Some schools and shops are closed in anticipation of the industrial action.
Freedom Square, the planned venue for the protest, is filled with police officers but organisers still expect thousands to gather. Inyalas have joined police and military street patrols. Some schools are shut despite government’s assurances they be would kept open.
Other shop owners have decided to close for the day as they fear looting from protestors and violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
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