Police officers in Swaziland have been captured on video viciously attacking defenceless workers on the street in Manzini during a legal protest over pay.
Dozens of officers in riot gear and waving batons are seen chasing workers. At least one officer appears to be wielding a whip. Workers are seen running fearing for their safety. The police indiscriminately hit the fleeing workers around their bodies.
At one point in the video that lasts only 45 seconds a protester stumbles and falls to the ground. He is face down and defenceless when at least two police officers beat him about the body. A third officer appears to kick him in the head as he runs by. They leave him unattended. He is later seen trying to get to his feet assisted by a witness. She is seen calling for help. There are what appears to be blood stains on the pavement.
The police officers continue to chase the workers down the road.
The attack happened on Tuesday morning (18 September 2018) close to the PEP stores opposite Manzini post office, next to the Limpid Pharmacy.
It was on the first day of a three day national strike organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). Protests took place simultaneously in the towns and cities of Mbabane, Manzini, Siteki and Nhlangano.
The strike had earlier been declared legal under Swaziland’s Industrial Relations Act.
In a statement the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) reported at least six workers in Manzini sustained serious injuries and needed hospital treatment. It said, ‘Police fiercely harassed workers.’
It added, ‘The workers had to run helter-skelter for safety after it became clear that the police were unleashing terror.’
, ‘Several workers were wounded and police fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd.’
Workers want a national minimum wage of E3,500 (US$ 234.27) a month, and an increase in elderly grants (pensions) to E1,500. Public sector workers also want a cost of living salary adjustment. The Government says it is broke and has offered zero percent.
In a , which is banned in the kingdom, said workers also wanted the legalisation of solidarity strikes, an increase in health and education funding and an end to arbitrary evictions especially on the working class and poor.
Swaziland () holds national elections on Friday (21 September 2018). Political parties are banned from taking part. People are only allowed to elect 59 members of the House of Assembly; another 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people.
King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and government members. He also chooses top civil servants and judges.
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