8 shot, 5 injured
MBABANE –Thirteen members of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) were yesterday rushed to Mbabane Government Hospital after being seriously injured during a confrontation with the police.
Eight of the union members were shot with rubber bullets while the rest were assaulted with batons by the Royal Swaziland Police and His Majesty’s Correctional Services officers.
The confrontation between the over 500 workers and the law enforcers took place at the Coronation Park, where the civil servants had assembled in preparation for a march to the Ministry of Public Service to deliver a petition.
The workers want government to implement a cost of living adjustment of 4.5 per cent on their salaries across the board for the financial year 2011/2012.
They also want a salary review to be conducted for all government employees as they claim it has been a decade since the last review.
The over 200 officers who had barricaded the park were led by Assistant Commissioner, Samuel Mbhamali and Hhohho Regional Commander, Richard Sibangani Mngomezulu.
The misunderstanding between the two groups started when the workers wanted to go and buy food during the lunch hour.
It was at around 1:30pm when Quinton Dlamini, President of NAPSAWU, informed the workers that they were free to go and buy lunch as they were still negotiating with the police regarding the march when the drama began.
The confrontation began at around 1:39pm as the police made it clear that they would not allow the workers to leave the park.
The workers were also refused permission to leave the park to respond to the call of nature and this led to two women urinating in front of the officers.
Assistant Commissioner Mbhamali told the workers that they would not be allowed to leave the park as the Mbabane City Council had not given them permission.
"You did not do your homework and you think we are children. Our stance is that we will not allow you to leave and if you want to go to deliver the petition organise transport to take your members to the ministry where the petition is to be delivered," he said.
Some of the workers, who were complaining of hunger, tried to push their way but were outnumbered by the armed officers.
At around 2pm Hhohho Regional Commander Mngomezulu began shouting, calling upon the police officers to fire at the workers.
It was immediately Mngomezulu had issued the order that the law enforcers fired tear gas canisters and began shooting at the workers who were singing and chanting political slogans.
The singing and toyi-toying did not seem to deter the officers as they continued assaulting some of them.
Most of the injured workers were taken to hospital in an ambulance after the union leaders had refused an offer to transport them in a police van.
A majority of them were reported to have been treated and discharged while others were admitted.
NAPSAWU blocked from streets
MBABANE – The Mbabane City Council is reported to have refused to grant National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) permission to march on the streets of the city.
This was disclosed by Police Assistant Commissioner Samuel Mbhamali when addressing the union leaders yesterday.
Armed with a letter from the council, Mbhamali ordered that they (union leaders) organise transport to ferry the workers to the ministry they wanted to petition.
He explained that the council, in the letter, said their request for permission to march had been made at short notice as they were supposed to file same seven days prior.
NAPSAWU President, Quinton Dlamini, said they followed all the laid down procedures as they wrote a letter to the council and it did not respond.
"We wrote a letter to the City Council informing them of the intended strike but they did not respond. Silence to us means consent so we decided to go ahead," he said.
Several attempts to convince the police to allow the march hit a snag as they were referred back to the council.
The union leaders were told the law did not permit them to march if they did not obtain permission from the City Council.
At around 4pm after failing to convince the police, the union leaders informed the civil servants that a bus to transport them would be organised.
The bus arrived at 4:07pm and had to make three trips from the park to the Ministry of Public Service where the workers were to deliver their petition.
Before delivering the petition the workers were addressed by Dlamini who first condemned the police for assaulting their members.
The petition was received by the Principal Secretary in the ministry, Evart Madlopha.
Madlopha had to wait for about 20 minutes as the workers sang and chanted political slogans in front of him before he was handed the petition by NAPSAWU Secretary General Vincent Dlamini.
Madlopha promised the workers that their grievances would be attended to as some of them were not new.
The principal secretary said he was surprised that there was a confrontation between the workers and the police.
He urged the workers to always abide by the law whenever they were engaged in a protest action to avoid confrontations.
These police are jst unfair,y do they shoot peaceful toyitoyas. Bona they have allowances not to march so give others tym to xpress their feelings, Barny must jst shut up cz udla kusale, circular #1 uyamvuma yena. Engabe lelive uyabona yin kutsi uliyisaphi?Phambili nge `Waya Waya`.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, tsutsu (n/a)
Ewu! Bakwethu, kuhamba nje lilanga linye kaNgwane sekuvele kukhanywene. Where really is this country heading to. The country seriously needs a regime change, it is obvious that the monarchy has failed the nation and it is high time the people are given a chance to have a government of the people by the people which will heed to public demand!!!!!
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Lord Anthony (email@example.com)
That's new, since when should people source permission from the City Council to go and buy LUNCH...................it was buying LUNCH. And what really annoy the crap off me is that those workers were not armed. When will Swaziland change or at least Swazis? The same tax we pay is the same money used to buy those teargas and batons. The police are even dressed by the same tax payers money. Were the rubber bullets really necessary? How many workers were shot from the front, most if not all off the victims have the wound on their back. that can only mean that they were running away from the police. Then you ask yourself what was the police intention, one thing and one thing they know the best "shoot to kill?" If there is a victim who was shot in the ear, then what was the police target there? you and you alone can guess the target. Then comes the greatest news of the day, 70something police officers promoted, as if civil servants don't die, they don't retire they don't get greener pastures else where? Then what is GENOCIDE Mr. PM?
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Mourning Worker
History has taught me...(I don't know about the government) that violence perpetrated by the armed forces against the civilians has never been a solution. It failed in 1976, June 16 in SA; it has failed in Libya and it failing in Syria. So the Swazi govt has taken that route too. Government, listen to me, your downfall is now around the corner if you keep this up.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Siko (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We would not like to see civil war arise in Swaziland. I also believe that a change on the government system is crucial.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Daniel Chavango (email@example.com)
Unspeakable, distasteful, and hostile conduct by the current State of Government, why is the Bill of Rights as found in Chapter 3 of the Constitution presumably adopted by the Swazi Nation in 26 July 2005 there, when we will have police brutality supercede the Right to Life of a Swazi Citizen who is standing up and defending their right, all I see is the woman and man who sacrifice all they have and dream to fight for a better future and Swaziland for me their daughter and son, but those sons and daughters are ordered to beat, shot and gas their own parents for standing up for their rights.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Young and disappointed at Swazi Goveremnt.
INJA YAMI ngiyibekile in the new liberated Swaziland, where would these folks who are issuing orders and shooting unarmed citizens be working, think for your lives and family after the demise of this REGIME, POOR COPS, I thought you could take a lesson from emabhunu that were leading riot squads during the apartheid era, they had to face the TRC and ask for forgiveness and where are they today? It is high time too even for these junior cops to use reasoning when dealing with protests, today you might be a peacock with this TIKHUNDLA system of Governance and tomorrow they will dump you like a used condom and be a featherduster.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Sungwez
Noma siyafa alukho uvalo. Phambili ngewaya waya.
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM, Siyabonga hlophe (Hlophesiyabonga90@yahoo.com)