Police in Swaziland (eSwatini) fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd protesting that they were being made to pay fines for jaywalking while a broken pedestrian bridge was left unrepaired.
It happened at Eteni on the major Manzini-Mbabane Highway.
The residents complained that they were being charged for jaywalking by traffic officers when there was a bridge they should be using to cross to the other side of the road. The bridge was damaged a few weeks ago when one of the slabs fell off.
The broken bridge
|Protestors lit fires to block the road. Pictures sourced from Facebook|
They have to walk long distances to get to the other side of the road. If they cross the road where the bridge is police can give on-the-spot fines of up to E60 for jaywalking. In Swaziland about seven in ten people have incomes of less than E30 a day.
Residents blocked the road on Thursday night (24 September 2020) by lighting tyres. Traffic was held up for several hours. Riot police were called to clear the road.
Police in Swaziland routinely use teargas and rubber bullets against protestors. They have also used heavy-handed methods when dealing with members of the public during the present coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in the kingdom.
Police reportedly fired a shot and severely kicked and punched residents at Murray Camp, outside the main commercial city Manzini in August. Residents were allegedly drinking alcohol outside a homestead which is against lockdown regulations.
On 15 April Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini endorsed police beating people during the lockdown. He told a press briefing, ‘If you are found to be violating these regulations, the law will definitely take its course, we won’t compromise on this. Maybe those who were assaulted were found to be on the wrong side of the law by breaking the regulations put in place by government.’
A 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded by police when he played football with friends on a dusty field near Gege. The Times of eSwatini reported their game was being watched by two adults. It said the police officer allegedly fired his weapon to disperse the spectators.
The youngster was struck by a bullet in his left arm and it was later reported he would be maimed for life.
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