Saturday, June 30, 2018


Two people are critically ill in hospital after police in Swaziland / Eswatini attacked demonstrators.

Police blocked an injured person from being taken for treatment, local media reported.

The Observer on Saturday reported two people were ‘reported critical after some severe bashing from the no nonsense police security’.

It happened on Friday (29 June 2018) in the kingdom’s capital Mbabane during a protest march to deliver a petition organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) against government policies.

The Observer reported, ‘Majembeni Thobela, a security guard hired by the Swaziland Security Services, was one of the marchers who received the worst beatings and was reportedly left unconscious.’

It added, ‘Thobela was severely beaten by the police using batons, kicks and fists in a confrontation which was started by disagreements on which route to take when going to deliver their petition to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Offices.

‘Police reacted to the confrontation by spraying water on the marchers using their water cannon.
‘Thobela was left covered with blood on his face from head injuries.’

The Observer reported, ‘Police watched a helpless Thobela as he talked until he collapsed in front of their line.

‘First aid was later applied to him by other marchers immediately after the confrontation had calmed.’

The Swazi News reported, ‘the protestors had to push and shove the police who were blocking them from taking the injured man into the ambulance’.

The Observer reported, ‘The police did not even bother to rush their victim to hospital despite that he was oozing blood and lay on the floor.’

It added, ‘As the pushing and shoving for passage to the DPM’s office ensued, a police casspir water tanker started to spray the protestors and followed with stun grenades when they saw that the marchers retaliated with stones.’

The marchers ran for safety, ‘with police heavy on their pursuit beating everyone on sight with batons’.

The Observer reported, ‘Other marchers were cornered and severely assaulted by the police.’
Gcebile Ngcamphalala is reported to have suffered a fracture when she was whipped by officers whilst trying to jump over a fence.

There were also reports of police using rubber bullets and stun grenades against the protestors. 

Swaziland Police spokesperson Assistant Superintend Phindile Vilakati confirmed the incident which left Thobela oozing with blood, but denied the injury was caused by police.

The Observer reported Vilakati saying Thobela’s injury was as a result of the flying stones from the marchers.

‘We don’t carry stones, but batons. This was an unfortunate incident caused by marchers failing to adhere to the agreed route. We are at times forced to use minimum force to enforce compliance with the rules,’ she said.

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Friday, June 29, 2018


Four protesters were injured on Friday (29 June 2018) in Swaziland when police opened fire with rubber bullets and stun grenades during a workers’ protest against government policies, international news agencies reported.

AFP reported, ‘Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at about 500 protesters, as well as using water cannon and wielding batons, as demonstrators threw stones at officers.’ Reuters put the number of protestors at 2,000.

It happened in Mbabane, the kingdom’s capital.

Reuters reported they marched against poor service delivery, alleged misuse of state pension funds and a proposed law to charge citizens who marry foreigners.

AFP reported, ‘The demonstration organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland was over accusations that millions of dollars have been removed from the national pension fund by the government of King Mswati III, one of the world’s few absolute monarchs.

‘Parliament instituted the probe into the alleged scandal, but it was later halted.’

AFP reported trade union leader Bheki Mamba told protestors, ‘We were marching peacefully until this unfortunate incident by police.

‘The injured comrades have been rushed to hospital. We assured the police that we are not confrontational.’

Freedom of speech and assembly are severely curtailed in Swaziland. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers. Advocates for multiparty democracy have been arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. 
Meetings on all topics are routinely banned in Swaziland and the kingdom’s police and security forces have been criticised by international observers.

In September 2017, police stopped a pro-democracy meeting taking place, saying they  had not given organisers permission to meet. It happened during a Global Week of Action for democracy in the kingdom. About 100 people reportedly intended to meet at the Mater Dolorosa School (MDS) in Mbabane. 

In 2013, after police broke up a meeting to discuss the pending election, the meeting’s joint organisers, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) said Swaziland no longer had a national police service, but instead had ‘a private militia with no other purpose but to serve the unjust, dictatorial, unSwazi and ungodly, semi-feudal royal Tinkhundla system of misrule’.

In April 2015, a planned rally to mark the anniversary of the royal decree that turned Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by an autocratic monarch was abandoned amid fears that police would attack participants. In February and March, large numbers of police disbanded meetings of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), injuring at least one union leader.

In 2014, police illegally abducted prodemocracy leaders and drove them up to 30 kilometres away, and dumped them to prevent them taking part in a meeting calling for freedom in the kingdom. Police staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to Swaziland’s main commercial city, Manzini, where protests were to be held. They also physically blocked halls to prevent meetings taking place.  Earlier in the day police had announced on state radio that meetings would not be allowed to take place.

In 2012, four days of public protest were planned by trade unions and other prodemocracy organisations. They were brutally suppressed by police and state forces and had to be abandoned.

In 2013, just before the national election in Swaziland, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported that Swaziland was becoming a police and military state. It said things had become so bad that police were unable to accept that peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a healthy democratic process, and should not be viewed as a crime.

These complaints were made by OSISA at an African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia in April 2013.

OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization of the country through the deployment of the Swazi army, police and correctional services to clamp down on any peaceful protest action by labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s undemocratic elections [in 2013].’

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The Swazi Observer newspaper misled its readers when its reported that the Swaziland police had ok’d an LGBTI event in the kingdom.

The misreporting led to confusion and the police making a forceful statement in clarification.

Police blamed the Rock of Hope which is organising the event for the error. 

Rock of Hope in a statement said, ‘We did not say or intend to imply that the police have endorsed Rock of Hope or the upcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) Pride event.’ It added, ‘They are not associated with our organisation and neither did they sanction our intended event.’

The problem started when the Observer’s Saturday edition (23 June 2018) published  a story with the headline Police ok gay march’. However nowhere in the story did the newspaper give evidence to support the headline. It did not quote the police nor Rock of Hope saying police had given support.

This led to confusion and the Hhohho Regional Police Commissioner Charles Tsabedze wrote a strong letter to Rock of Hope. He called Rock of Hope dishonest and said it ‘gave the impression that we gave authority that the event should go ahead’.

Tsabedze said police had agreed to provide security and traffic control. He added, ‘We wish to categorically point out that we are not associated with your organisation and neither did we sanction your intended event.’

He did not mention the misreporting of the police’s position by the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

LGBTI Pride organiser Melusi Simelane told the Daily Beast the police had been ‘incredibly welcoming, supportive, and professional’.

The Beast reported, ‘He added, “up until a media report saying they had ‘OK’d’ the event. Then somewhere within the police leadership there was alarm, and we were called into a meeting to be told that the police can’t be seen to support anything at all, that all they would do was provide security as for any other event. Really, they’ve been great.’

The Beast reported police told Simelane they were receiving ‘a lot of threats’ from people wanting to attack Pride marchers. 

The Pride which takes place on Saturday 30 June 2018 is the first LGBTI event of its kind in Swaziland. The Observer has over the past week published three articles demonising LGBTI people likening them to child sex monsters and people who have sex with animals.

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