Criminal charges against student leader Sibusiso Siyaya have been withdrawn. He had been charged with obstructing police when he went to Malkerns police station to inquire about the well-being of students who had been arrested during a protest.
It happened in September 2017. At the time voice recordings emerged of police threatening Siyaya, who was President of the Student Representative Council at the University of Swaziland.
On Wednesday (1 November 2017) he appeared at Malkerns Circuit Court to be told charges had been dropped. He told the Swazi Observer newspaper on Friday no reasons were given to him.
In September 2017 it was reported that police threatened to beat-up Siyaya at Malkerns police station. The incident was captured on voice recorder and details published in a national newspaper.
Siyaya made a phone call while in the reception area of the police station and the call was recorded.
The Sunday Observer newspaper reported (10 September 2017) many voices of police officers can be heard on the tape. At one point a policeman asks Siyaya, ‘Why are you here? What do you want here? Who called you? We will beat you,’
The newspaper reported, ‘[V]oices of a group of people believed to be police officers hurl all sorts of insults and ridicule him. The upper voice heard is believed to be that of a male police officer who hurls a vernacular insult directed to Siyaya that cannot be repeated for ethical reasons.’
Siyaya was arrested and charged at the station with obstructing police in the course of their duty. He appeared at magistrates court the following day and was released on bail of E2,000 (US$150). In Swaziland, seven in ten people are so poor they have incomes of less than US$2 a day.
At the time other students said they had been tortured by police while in holding cells.
Following the dropping of charges, the Observer reported Siyaya said he ‘was shocked because his arrest exposed him to humiliation and abuse by the police’.
Other students arrested at the protest have been bailed to appear in court on 12 December 2017.
POLICE BEATING THREAT CAUGHT ON AUDIO
SWAZI STUDENT LEADERS ARRESTED
PROTESTS CLOSE SWAZILAND UNIVERSITY
ARMED POLICE END STUDENT PROTEST