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Mass protest ends in chaos

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MBABANE – The last day of the labour unions mass protest ended in chaos yesterday when some workers and a political activist physically clashed with police.

The clash resulted in the around 300 workers abandoning the march and therefore never delivered the three petitions they had scheduled to give to three different ministers.

Unionist Wonder Mkhonza, teacher Justice Dlamini and Wandile Dludlu, who is president of the proscribed Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), were part of those who were not only beaten up but detained by the police as the demonstration spiralled out of hand when they allegedly resisted detention and obstructed the police.

Sibusiso Lushaba of the Swaziland Nurses Association was also involved in a verbal showdown with an officer who had allegedly insulted him.

The confrontation ensued at around noon at the inter-ministerial building entrance when police spotted the presence of Dludlu among the workers and demanded that he be removed by the protest leaders.

Hhohho Regional Commander Senior Superintendent Polycarp Ngubane reminded SNAT Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga of an agreement they made that only workers and not political activists would be allowed during the demonstration.

However, Mhlanga and Ngubane never reached consensus on Dludlu’s presence hence an order was issued that junior officers should remove the SWAYOCO leader from the group of workers who were waiting to deliver a petition to Labour and Social Security Minister Patrick Mamba. The junior officers invaded the crowd in search of Dludlu but it soon transpired that they did not know the latter and as a result confronted the wrong people.

First they took Mkhonza, who is leader of SPRAWU, and forcefully bungled him into a police Casper vehicle after having beaten him with batons as he resisted being detained.

When they realised they had the wrong person, they again went into the crowd and this time they fished out Dlamini the teacher. Senior Superintendent Ngubane seemed irked when he saw they had the wrong person again and shouted: "I want Wandile, this is not him. Go in there and get Wandile."

Indeed the third time around they managed to identify him from the crowd and he was dragged into the police Casper screaming and kicking but with little success.

After Dludlu had been put in the Casper the police then released Mkhonza and the teacher but not after the union leaders had demanded that they are set free because they had done nothing wrong.

The workers then decided to call off the demonstration by marching back to town where they gathered near the bus rank to be addressed by their leaders before dispersing.

Police Assistant PRO Superintendent Wendy Hleta said Dludlu was taken in for questioning and later released.

"We wanted to find out from him how he joined the protest as he is not a worker. We had agreed with the unions that non-members were not to take part," Hleta said.

‘...cops were obstructed’

MBABANE – Police say the confrontation between them and the marchers was caused by the protesters who were obstructing them in the line of duty.

Police Deputy PRO Superintendent Wendy Hleta said the only problem was the presence of a few individuals who are not part of the workforce who however took part in the march.

These include Wandile Dludlu, president of the banned SWAYOCO, who was removed from the workers and detained in a police Casper vehicle for the duration of the protest.

"We negotiated with the protest marshals to allow us to see Dludlu but they concealed him. The police then went through the group of marshals to look for him but they attacked them and obstructed police in the cause of their duty. The law permits that if obstructed police have to use minimal force to continue with their duty. They were not harsh. Those who obstructed the police were also taken away. We were not on a mission to arrest people but to maintain peace and order at the march which is why even those who were detained were cautioned and discharged," she said. She said yesterday’s protest action was better in terms of conduct of the participants compared to those of the past where even non-workers were allowed to participate.

However, she said; "I am surprised that the workers failed to deliver the petition and we think this was a way of elongating the demonstration. People were ready to receive the petition but they did not hand it over."


Comments

I feel sorry for a person like Wendy because every time she comments, she is trying by all means to impress her bosses. Let me give her free advice that one day we are going to see light in this country although it has become a police state.
Sep 9, 2010, 7:50 AM, Swazicitzen (stanleemkhabela@yahoo.com)

And finally the strike was successful. What was intended was finally achieved. So now it's time to go to the courts again....same old story.
Sep 9, 2010, 12:38 PM, Gweje

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