Police in Swaziland blocked nurses who were legally trying to deliver a petition to government as part of their ongoing campaign against service cuts.
One local newspaper reported a policeman’s baton was broken in two during the confrontation.
It is the fourth time in the past two weeks that police have attacked workers who had been taking action legally.
The latest happened on Friday (7 September 2018) in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, recently renamed Eswatini by the kingdom’s absolute monarch King Mswati III.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper in Swaziland reported, ‘A police officer saw his baton break into two pieces while he was trying to control nurses from marching on their way to deliver a petition through one of the streets of Mbabane.
‘There was a brief confrontation between the nurses and members of the police service, which resulted in pushing and shoving as the police blocked the march by the nurses.
‘That is when one of the police officers saw his baton broken into two pieces after a shoving by the nurses.’
It added, ‘During the confrontation with the police officers, the nurses asked why they were being blocked yet they had permission to hold the march.’
The newspaper reported, ‘Journalists on the ground were also on the receiving end of the angry police officer who called them young boys while walking with his broken baton. This was when one of the journalists enquired about what had happened to his baton and he rudely told him to go and ask the nurses.’
Nurses, along with other public service workers are protesting about a freeze on their cost of living pay adjustment. Nurses are also protesting about the shortage of medicines and other health equipment in government hospitals and clinics across Swaziland.
Police tried to redirect the march away from an agreed route when the trouble began.
The Observer reported, Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) President Bheki Mamba, told the nurses, ‘We’re seriously not happy with many Emaswati [Swazi people] losing their lives because government cannot provide drugs in hospitals. We’re saddened that people die before us and we are left with nothing to save their lives.’
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