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We were harassed by Swazi police, SAY Danish nationals

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MBABANE – Three Danish nationals have alleged that they were this week beaten by members of the Royal Swaziland Police after they were found in an office at a Manzini based NGO, the Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) Forum.

According to a statement by Peter Kenworthy, Communications and Project Officer of the Africa-Contact, the three Danish nationals found together with him were FSEJ Coordinator Dumezweni Dlamini and Thami Tsabedze, an office support staff member.

"Police entered the offices of FSEJ in Manzini, Swaziland at 9.20 am. Three representatives of the Danish organisation Africa Contact (myself included) were sitting peacefully drinking coffee together with two Foundation for Socio-economic Justice employees," he has related, in a statement that has been published on the Danish organisation’s website.

Africa Contact was in Swaziland to monitor a project with its partners, FSEJ, and talk to various other Swazi organisations to be able to write a report to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Throttling

"About 10 police officers charged into the office and started slapping and beating all five of us, knocking my glasses violently on the ground, throttling another, and repeatedly hitting one of the FSEJ employees," alleged Kenworthy.

He alleged that police shouted at them, questioning them about their participation in a Swaziland Democracy Campaign lecture.

He said they had spent less than five minutes at the Tum’s George Hotel.

They were then taken to the Manzini Regional Police Headquarters, where they have alleged that they were made to stand in a hallway where their passports, luggage and cellphones were taken from them.

"Here the policemen repeatedly terrorised and intimidated us. I was elbowed in the stomach twice and one officer told us that we will never return to Swaziland. He said: ‘You will die here!’ So, after having stood there for a while, all five of us were taken to the yard where around 20 or so other arrested South African activists that included COSATU and POPCRU, were standing," he narrated.

Kenworthy said they were made to stand there for close to an hour talking with the officers. He continued: "Sometimes in a normal, friendly manner, as it seemed that these junior policemen were curious on what made us support the democracy movement in Swaziland, and they at times seemed threatening," he said.

Bundled

"They first bundled the South Africans and us into the back of a police vans. We spent close to two hours at the back of the van. We tried in vain to ask for permission to go and get water, food, or be allowed to go to the toilet was turned down. We were told that we can go to the toilet in Denmark.

"We were then hauled into an office where we got in one by one for interrogation. Most of us were frightened because the police frightened and intimidated us.

What was intimidating was that there were eight officers on the other side of the table.

"We were afraid of being beaten up again. They kept shouting and ‘barked orders’ at us, especially if we did not reply immediately or if the answers were not to their satisfaction. During the interrogations the police repeated their threat of killing us? They told us we will never see Denmark again. They told us that all our requests of seeing a lawyer or to speak to our consular in Swazi-land were turned down. They told us that we can only do that once we have been charged," added Kenworthy.

Their line of questioning, according to Kenworthy, was mostly about their project with FSEJ. He said they told the cops that the project was on capacity building and resource mobilisation that was sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Supporting

He said the police accused the Danish of financially supporting banned political organisations like the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), an illegal entity.

"We only learnt later that the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, the Danish Embassy in Pretoria, and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs were among others that pressured the Swazi regime to release Mario Masuku from prison.


Comments

Mr Prime Minister, as the Head of the Royal Swaziland Police, what your agents did to the foreign visitors has placed the country in bad political light internationally. It has further confirmed the suspicions of Human Rights abuses in Swaziland especially as experienced by suspects in the hands of the Police. You have made your thorny bed with the Swaziland Government, I hope you will be ready to lie on it as international pressure is bound to be brought upon your govt by what the Police have just done.
Sep 11, 2010, 11:01 am, Sicelo

Who knows that one day Madiba would govern & rule white people in ? Same applys to Swaziland,it wont be long PUDEMO to take control & us to taste democracy,something we have never tasted before.
Sep 11, 2010, 11:10 am, General

Your Majesty. I hope my email will find its way to you Your Excellency as relating to this unfortunate happening. You have championed the causes for democracy under your able guidance and leadership of the SADC Troika where you able dealt with democratic challenges of Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Through it all you have appealed and demonstrated that talks and diplomacy ultimately prevail without necessarily resorting to violence and anarchy. Your Majesty, your regional efforts are now being watered down by your Prime Minister through refusing to follow in your wise footsteps of diplomatic engagement and championing of democracy. Please Your Majesty, international embarassment has just occured to our Danish visitors which was uncalled for. May I beseech you, Your Majesty to ameliorate the situation and extend apologies to the Danish Government and relieve the current Prime Minister of his duties as he has failed you and is threatening to undo your impeccable international democratic achievement and take the country back to days preceding our even getting independence.
Sep 11, 2010, 11:04 pm, Mfanzile

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