Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Swaziland police fire live ammunition as children protest about witchcraft at their school

Police in Swaziland / eSwatini fired live ammunition as school pupils protested against a staff member they accused of using witchcraft.
They also used water cannon and fired stun grenades and rubber bullets during the protest that lasted about four hours. The pupils had pelted police officers with stones and blocked the road with burning car tyres and broken school furniture.

It happened at Dvokolwako High School on Monday (15 July 2019). The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘The pupils were baying for the staff member’s blood on allegations of witchcraft.’ 

The Swazi Observer reported the accused staff member was said to be responsible for the death of four pupils and three teachers since 2013

The Times reported, ‘The Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) officers came armed to the teeth and they brought along a water cannon, which was used to disperse the rioting pupils.

‘Amid all that tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, stun grenades and live rounds of ammunition flew in the air while the pupils who were rioting ran helter-skelter.’

It added Pupils had boycotted morning assembly and the school authorities called the police who came ‘to ensure peace and order, to drive the pupils out of the school’.

The Observer reported, ‘The situation went out of hand when police officers arrived at the school. Witnesses said after the pupils were sent home, the police arrived and chased after some pupils who were singing and dancing outside the school premises. After the police chased after them, it is said others were left behind and they started to hurl stones and pelted the windows.’

This was not the first time that police in Swaziland attacked children at their school. In May 2019 police fired rubber bullets and teargas at pupils at Mhubhe High School at Ngculwini when they protested about sexual abuse on them by a teacher.

In March 2014 police armed with batons attacked pupils at Mbabane Central High School and detained about 100 of them when they boycotted classes after they were denied the opportunity to take part in sporting activities by their school. The school said they suspended sporting activities because too many students were failing exams and needed to focus more on their studies.

In June 2013 police fired live bullets when children boycotted classes in protest against alleged corruption at Mhubhe High School in Ngculwini. Gunshots were fired at the pupils after police drove them away from the school, but they tried to return.

In March 2011 police reportedly assaulted pupils of Mbukwane High School after the children took part in a demonstration. The Observer reported at the time police went to the homes of the pupils, took them to the police station where they were interrogated ‘before being beaten up’.

In the same year, 12 schoolchildren at Kubongeni High School, accused of being leaders in a class boycott, were beaten up by police officers with batons, in their own school, in front of the school’s principal. The pupils were called individually into the school’s staffroom where the police officers and their principal were. Pupils said they were then assaulted with batons and fists.

Local media reported the school became suspicious that the pupils were about to organise another boycott, so the police were called.

See also

Swaziland police fire rubber bullets at schoolchildren protesting sexual abuse by teacher

Another police attack on children

Police shoot as children protest
Swazi police assault school kids
Pupil leaders beaten by police

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