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Cops detain COSATU members

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MANZINI- Four Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) members were yesterday detained and stopped from participating in today’s mass protest action.

Also detained was Public Service International (PSI)’s Ntokozo Mbhele.

This comes after a civic society meeting organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) held at the Tum’s George Hotel was abruptly stopped by a group of police officers.

The meeting comprised of about 30 people who were all chanting political slogans.

About 10 plain clothed police detectives descended at the Tum’s George Hotel and demanded to see the names of all the people who had come to the meeting.

Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL)’s Secretary General, Vincent Ncongwane told the union members what the police were demanding however they refused with the list.

"We won’t’ give the police an opportunity to distract us, they’re not even dressed in uniform, if they want to be part of the meeting they should be given joining forms so they could be part of the meeting," one union member was heard saying.

After seeing that the members and leaders were not cooperating, the police came inside the auditorium and ordered everyone out. "People who don’t want to listen are always taught a lesson, everybody out and straight to the police cars now," one detective was heard saying.

The majority of whom were taken in for questioning and later released. These include some of the union leaders.

The five from South Africa are National Union of Miners in South Africa (NUMSA) Deputy President Christinia Oliver, South African Municipal Workers Union Steve Faukner, COSATU’s Deputy International Relations Secretary Zanele Mathebula, COSATU’s head of campaigns George Mahlangu and Mbhele. Police officers had made it clear that no foreigner, least of all COSATU member will be allowed in the country during today’s protest actions.

Members of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Union (SFTU), Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) and Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), together with COSATU have called for a mass protest action today.

The Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Superintendent, Wendy Hleta said after mutual discussions the five unionists volunteered to return to SA after it was explained to them that this was a Swazi demonstration.

...unionists found with disturbing documents

MANZINI- The Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Superintendent, Wendy Hleta said the union leaders and members were detained because of some disturbing documents found by the police.

"We held them for questioning and a few interviews. When we found the disturbing documents with some information and a list of foreign people, it was clear that the whole mass action had a different agenda," she said.

Hleta said the police had earlier met with all the local union leaders and they had told them that they wanted the police to cover the protest.

"We told them straight that we would not cover them because we saw no reason why there was the protest in the first place. They could not even tell us why they wanted to go on with the protest," she said.

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