Media in Swaziland are reporting that about 100 students were forced to flee across the streets of the Swazi capital, Mbabane.
The Swazi Observer reported today (5 September 2012) that the students were part of the on-going Global Week of Action for Swaziland and wanted to demonstrate under the banner ‘Relevance of the Education System to the Current Situation’. They wanted to deliver petitions to the Ministries of Labour and Social Security and Education and Training Students and the South African High Commission.
The students and other pro-democracy activists are this week drawing attention to the lack of human rights in Swaziland.
The Observer reported that police allowed the march to start yesterday morning. ‘At first the police officers gave the impression that the students were being escorted to the ministry but when they reached a certain road without any exits, they ambushed them. They ordered the marchers to disperse and fired warning shots, forcing the students to flee while those who could not run fast enough were beaten up.
‘One such person was a female student who lay on the ground as police officers beat her up with batons until some street vendors begged them to stop. When the officers finally stopped hitting her, she stood up looking confused, possibly from the blows she received and then vanished into the streets of the capital.’
The newspaper added police chased students to the Angela Cash and Carry. ‘The officers blocked part of the entrance to the shop while some stormed in and beat up the students who were hiding there. Shop attendants, who could not stand the sight of students being beaten up, fled the scene and in fact some were not aware the people being bashed were students.’
Ordinary shoppers at the cash and carry were also beaten by police. ‘When they stormed the shop, screams of people being assaulted with batons could be heard from a considerable distance,’ the Observer reported.
‘This was followed by the shoppers bolting out of the shop as police followed behind. One of the shoppers who were heavily assaulted could not run fast enough but kept walking while a police officer continued to hit him with a baton.
‘He ran as if limping until he stopped a few metres away from the shop after being slowed down by the heavy beating. After finally catching up with him, other police officers then surrounded the shopper and interrogated him, after which he was allowed to walk away. About two more others were also beaten up while another was saved by a shop owner who claimed he was not part of the students.’
The Times of Swaziland reported there was more police violence at the Mbabane bus rank when they tried to arrest leader of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini.
At this time nearly 300 students had gathered at the entrance of the Swazi Plaza where they were singing and chanting political songs when a senior officer tried to speak to Dlamini. Students who believed Dlamini was about to be arrested came to his rescue and Dlamini escaped.
‘When the police officers started assaulting the students, Dlamini was nowhere to be seen and he was reported to have boarded a kombi to Manzini in a bid to evade arrest, the Times reported.
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