The Swazi university student who was crushed under an armoured troop carrier when police drove at speed at protesting students was so badly injured she will not walk again.
Ayanda Mkhabela, aged 23, was one of many students attacked by police at the University of Swaziland Kwaluseni campus on 22 February 2016.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported doctors in Port Elizabeth Hospital, South Africa, said she will never walk again.
The police attack happened as students were protesting about delays in registration.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported at the time, ‘a Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Operational Services Unit (OSSU) casspir drove at high speed into a group of about 2,000 students, who, when they realised that the vehicle was not stopping, ran in all directions.
The Swazi Observer, reported, “The official police version of events was to the effect that Mkhabela tried to climb on the body of the casspir and fell, thus injuring herself.
‘This was said by Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba yesterday afternoon.
‘He denied that the casspir could have been used as a weapon by the police and when he was asked if the officers were qualified to rush a person to the hospital instead of waiting for paramedics considering that Mkhabela had spinal injuries, Mamba said they were trained in first aid and acted due to the emergency of the situation.’
The Swaziland National Union of Students (NSUS), in a statement posted on Facebook, said newspapers had distorted the truth to make the incident look like an accident.
SNUS said, ‘Truth of the matter is approximately 1,000 protesting students at Kwaluseni UNISWA were targeted by the police casspir which sped to disperse them and as their desire hit our very own desperate Ayanda Mkhabela. Upon knocking her down, as expected the casspir switched off lights and she was taken away, fortunately to hospital.’
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