Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Police Spy Discovered And Ejected From Swaziland Teachers’ Union Conference

Teachers in Swaziland discovered a police spy at their union conference and threw him out.

His name and photograph and a picture of the car he was using was published on social media.

It was one in a number of cases where police and security forces in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III) have been discovered spying on legitimate meetings.

It happened at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) conference at Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha on Sunday (2 September 2018). 

A week before the conference police shot and wounded a schoolteacher when they fired into a group of teachers during a protest over pay.

This is only one in a long list of cases of police and security forces spying in Swaziland. In July 2018 it was reported that police were video recording and keeping data of protest marches by political parties and labour federations. They then used the information to deprive people of college scholarships, jobs in the army, police, and correctional services or promotions in government departments, the online newspaper Swaziland News reported.

The newspaper said the Police Intelligence Unit had been captured filming a protest march organised by the Trade Congress Union of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) in June 2018.
In September 2017 police in Swaziland disguised themselves as news reporters at a march of public servants in Mbabane. The Sunday Observer in Swaziland at the time called it ‘spying’ and said it had happened before at other public demonstrations, ‘They [police] are always plain clothed and carry traditional journalistic tools including cameras and notebooks,’ the newspaper reported.
The march was legal. A police spokesman said they were not spying because the march took place in a public place.
In August 2017 it was reported that police infiltrated a Pensioners’ Association meeting to make notes on proceedings.

In June 2017 some senior politicians in Swaziland reported fears their phones were being tapped. One also thought his car might be bugged.  

In July 2013 it was reported that police in Swaziland were spying on the kingdom’s members of parliament. One officer disguised in plain clothes was thrown out of a workshop for MPs and one MP reported his phone had been bugged. Ntondozi MP Peter Ngwenya told the House of Assembly at the time that MPs lived in fear because there was constant police presence, in particular from officers in the Intelligence Unit. 
The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported at the time that at the same sitting of the House Lobamba MP Majahodvwa Khumalo said his cellphone had been bugged ever since he started being ‘vocal against some people’. 
In May 2013 the Media Institute of Southern Africa reported that police spies had infiltrated journalism newsrooms in Swaziland, which had led to a heightened climate of fear. 
It is legal in certain circumstances to tap phones in Swaziland. The Suppression of Terrorism Act gives police the right to listen in on people’s conversations if they have the permission of the Attorney General.
When the Act came into law in 2008 Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said that anyone who criticised the government could be considered a terrorist sympathiser.
In 2012 it came to light that the Swaziland Army had attempted to buy cameras and phone monitoring equipment worth US$1.25 million. The Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) – the formal name of the Swaziland Army – was sued  in the Swaziland High Court because it ordered the equipment, but did not pay for it.
In 2011 a journalist working in Swaziland for the AFP international news agency reported on her blog that her phone calls were being listened in to. 
In August 2011 Wikileaks published a cable from the US Embassy in Swaziland that revealed the Swazi Government had tried to get MTN, the only mobile phone provider in the kingdom, to use its network for ‘surveillance on political dissidents’. 
Tebogo Mogapi, the MTN chief executive officer (CEO) in Swaziland, refused to comply and later did not have his work permit renewed and so had to leave the kingdom.
See also
Top Swazi Politicians’ ‘Phones Bugged’
State Police Spy On Swazi MPs
Police Spies Infiltrate Media
AFP Journalist’s Phone Bugged
Security Forces ‘Spy On Candidates’
Swaziland ‘Becoming Military State’

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