SNAT members akalali'
MBABANE – Despite that it was heard on a Saturday, teachers came in their numbers to listen to proceedings of their case against government yesterday.
About 200 teachers showed up living up to the teachers newest slogan: ‘SNAT akalali’.
They were joined by political activists including Wandile Dludlu of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).
Also in attendance was lawyer and activist Lomcebo Dlamini, the Director of the Swaziland Branch Women in Law Southern Africa.
The matter which commenced at around 10am dragged until just after 6pm
Unlike on Friday, when teachers sang and later engaged in a confrontation with the police near the High Court, yesterday was calm.
Most police officers at the scene were in plain clothes, with only a few in uniform. They patrolled and also controlled traffic around the Industrial Court where the matter was heard.
Attendants came driving in private cars, which were parked outside the premises of the court. Only a few were allowed into the court grounds. Again, cellphones and electronic gadgets including cameras were not allowed inside the court.
Those who happened to go inside the court were ordered to leave their cellphones behind.
Even though the police did not provide alternative storage where the gadgets could be kept safe, teachers decided to use one of the cars for this exercise.
They placed the gadgets together and had them guarded by other teachers, who were not inside the court. The police explained that the reason cellphones have been ban in yesterday’s case was that on Friday some teachers defied a notice placed on the entrance which warned that cellphones must be switched off.
"Despite this notice a cellphone rang inside the court and disturbed the proceedings," explained the police to the teachers.
It was after this explanation that the teachers heeded the warning of the notice.
Inside court, lawyers battled it out while Industrial Court Judge Dumisani Mazibuko listened to submissions and also interjected and raised questions from time to time.
Government was represented by Sifiso Khumalo, Senior Council at the Attorney General’s Office.
He was assisted by Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini.
Yesterday was the continuation of the case between government and the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
On Friday, government filed an urgent application seeking an order to have 18 members of SNAT incarcerated for 30 days.
In its submissions government argued that SNAT and the 18 respondents acted in defiance of a court order issued on June 20, 2012. The order was preventing teachers from engaging in a strike action.
SNAT lawyer Mandla Mkhwa-nazi submitted that teachers were not on strike and that they never acted violently as it had been stated in the affidavits filed by government.
He instead said after the issuance of the court order SNAT regional executive members went around engaging in meetings with intension to pass the message that teachers should not strike to respect the court order.
Mkhwanazi argued that the police mistakenly perceived these meetings to be a strike, hence they acted violently towards the teachers.
He said government has also failed to prove that teachers were violent in their regional meetings. He said supporting affidavit filed by police does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was violent conduct from teachers.
"Pushing a gate does not mean you are violent. If the court perceives pushing a gate as being violent, then all of us before this court are violent," he said much, to the laughter of the gallery.
Mkhwanazi said this when arguing on an affidavit filed by a police officer from Ezulwini who said a group of teachers approached Ezulwini Community Primary School toyi-toying and forced entry into the school while demanding that working teachers join them.
Sifiso Khumalo argued that violence did not necessarily mean there had to be action.
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