Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It hasn’t taken long for Swaziland’s police force to show their true colours when it comes to defending people in power.

Swaziland’s new police commissioner Isaac Magagula has been trying to tell us Swazi police aren’t agents of state control. He even says the police will respect their ‘clients’.

But an attack the Swazi police made on striking security guards yesterday (1 December 2009) shows what a lie this is.

One guard was shot in the head with a rubber bullet and five people in total were injured when police opened fire on striking security guards in Swaziland’s capital Mbabane.

Police also used teargas on the strikers.

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported police fired teargas to ‘calm’ the strikers.

The striking workers were demanding a meeting with their bosses to put forward a wage claim to increase their pay in line with inflation.

Unlike the police and Swaziland’s MPs who recently received large salary increases, security guards are poorly paid. Their bosses say the security workers are getting the minimum amount they are required to pay by Swazi government regulations.

According to a spokesman for the Swaziland Amalgamated Trade Union (SATU), the bosses ‘arrogantly told us they have the money to pay three times what we are asking for’, but will stick to the government’s minimum wage figure.

According to the union, the police were defending the employer Fidelity Security Services which had hired casual employees to take over from the striking workers and was attempting to smuggle them into the company premises.

‘Our members got angry to when they heard such. Our members want [to] block the casual staffers from entering the premises – something which resulted in the confrontation with the police who tried to drive our members away from the company gate.’

The union said police fired at the strikers ‘for no apparent reason’.

The union said the strike would continue until their demands are met

No comments: