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OPEN LETTER TO ALL POLICE OFFICERS

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“Law enforcement must be guardians in our communities, not warriors against our own people” -Cal Cunningham

A good morning to you all, bo sir nabo madam. I hope this letter, which is written with all due respect, directed at your individual, as well collective capacities as law enforcement officers of the country, finds you all well this Sunday. I respectfully plead with you all, irrespective of your ranks, positions and religious affiliations or otherwise, in the police service, to kindly read this letter with an open mind. I also hope that after reading through the letter, it will restore some calm in light of the volatile relationship between citizens of the country, and you as members of the ‘long arm of the law.’

But, firstly, kindly bear with me, since it is a Sunday - a day of worship for many, including some among you - allow me to begin this letter with this verse, quoted from the book of the prophet, Ezekiel 33:7-9: “7. Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. “8. When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. “9.But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself...”

In a nutshell, the Living God in this chapter, cautions all human beings that we are all His watchmen, and that it is every human being’s duty to give  advice - sicwayisane - if he or she perceives any wrongs, misdemeanours, etc. - irrespective of how inconsequential or trivial they might be - committed by the next person.

No one, bo sir, bami, needs to be a rocket scientist to discern that the job that you are doing is of utmost importance to the citizens, as well as the government of the country. You are the most visible representatives of the government.
As citizens of the country, and during any hour of need, danger, crisis and difficulty, when we do not know what to do, and whom to approach, the police station and you as policemen, happen to be the most appropriate, and approachable (or used to be?) unit for us to shout for help.  

As the public, we expect you to be the most accessible, interactive and dynamic organisation of any society.
Sadly, as citizens of the country, it pains me immensely to inform you - with due respect - that is, as our supposed protectors, sesinisabisakwe mamba. This is partly due to the obtaining, tense, political situation currently unfolding in the country, accompanied by allegations from numerous quarters about your at times, use of excessive and unwarranted force against other citizens of the country when conducting your vital, policing duties.

Such alleged acts have deeply alienated you from the people you are constitutionally supposed to protect.
It is deeply petrifying to learn from other citizens of the country that when they observe some of you law enforcement officers, approaching from the opposite direction or when they are about to meet up with you along the way, they flinch with trepidation, confused and conflicted with indecision of whether to cross to the other side of the street, avoid you or contemplate run away from you even when they know pretty well that deep inside in their hearts kutsi kuteloku wrong labakwentile. Bo sir, Nani bo madam, the million Dollar question is: ngabe seyindlela yekuphila, naleyo, baphatsibetfu?

Please, do not get me wrong, here ladies, and gentlemen. I am writing this letter with the sole intention kwekutsi sakhane - not to accuse you - as part of members of our society. Please kindly understand that I am not qualified to do that, like everyone else, I am not perfect. In fact, if truth be told, we, as human beings, are not infallible.

Bible

None of us is without sin. The Bible - the Word of the Living God - attests to that in the Book of 1 John 1:8:
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us...”

In simpler terms, bo sir, and nani bo madam, we are all not perfect.  We are prone to making mistakes. Hence, the need for us kutsi sichushisane as people of one nation, and one language, especially in cases where, and when we feel that akuhambikahle or akukahambikahle, between ourselves as emaSwati.

We all know very well that our relationship as citizens of the country, and yourselves, used to be more or less, cordial, amicable and cohesive. We used to, more often than not, approach all police stations, and, you as individual police officers with confidence, safe in the knowledge that you as our brothers, sisters and crucially, as our protectors, you would offer us all the help we needed, as much as possible, within, and at times, outside your scope of duties.

Sadly, this has all changed.

I do not want to- dig up any graves - and detail where it all went wrong. Each one of us is well aware of the main events, and reasons behind such which led to the pervasive violence, leading to the sense of fear, permeating atmosphere of mistrust, intolerance, and hatred that is throttling the country, and making all our lives miserable, uncertain and pure hell.

The allegations of misconduct against some of you, that is, individually or collectively as police officers, are deeply worrying to those of us who love peace and harmony. Hopefully, one day, proper, legal, and reconciliatory platforms where we shall all trash out our differences amicably, will be availed. Such differences have torn us apart as a nation.

Public

At the same time, if we want to restore the lost public trust in you, bo sir and nanibo madam bami, I have to be brutally honest, but respectful with the truth. Ligamalenu selonakele kakhulu, bafowethu, nanibodzadze. I am a writer, who interacts a lot, and, or listens to numerous conversations conducted in public places by complete strangers, as well as among people I know, etcetera, involving you as officers of the law. Hayi, bafowethu nani bodzadze, kubi. I repeat,kubi ngempela indlela the way the public views you, lately.

To confide in you, as I write this letter, iminwe iyavevetela. Why? I do not know how some of you will view this honest letter written with the sole intention of rebuilding the lost trust in you as law enforcement officers. Whether I will wake up to see another tomorrow is anybody’s guess. That is how scared of you we have become!

I am a law-abiding citizen, and a God-fearing person, and since God implores us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, ngiyatehlisa..ngiyatigicita phambikwenu: Please try your best to restore the trust in, and love many of the country’s citizens used to have for you! I have never, ever in my whole, senior citizen’s life seen such raw, unadulterated hatred for other members of our society like the people have for you as police officers. Kushacisa lugogo, nyanisi!

I fully understand that your job is a very, very dangerous one. You are exposed day, and night, to very dangerous situations where your lives could be terminated at the bat of an eyelid. It is no secret - a painful one, I must say - that you brutally lost some of your colleagues at the height of the previous unrests.

Families

Exactly like how some members of the public, also lost a lot of friends, and many members of their families, allegedly at the hands of some of you, it is important that we wave the olive branch, and dialogue. No one is winner in political violence. Reconciliation, kubuyisana, sisolane ngekuthula, with the law taking its rightful course on all those implicated in violent cases of  misconduct, would go a long way in restoring confidence in your organisation.
But, kutsi sekufuneka sikhamane, and fail to solve our problems amicably, angekekusi lungise lesimo lesima timanjenganasi lesibhekene naso as a country.

I have to be very candid with you, and, with due respect, put it to you in no uncertain terms that the hatred directed at you, as police officers, is horrifying. People out there are very aggrieved, and resentful against you as law enforcement officers. Serious allegations against you that you brutalise, intimidate, and harass even innocent citizens are deeply worrying. As the public, it a fact of life that we just cannot do many things without you.  We need you.The reverse is also true,there is little you can do without the public’s cooperation. It is a mutual relationship.
According to my understanding, your duty as police officers, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution is, Chapter V: Law enforcement objectives

57. (1) Law enforcement officials shall at all times fulfil the duty imposed upon them by the law by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts, consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.  
 (2) In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.
 (3) Law enforcement officials may not inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, nor may any law enforcement official invoke superior orders or exceptional circumstances as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
 (4) Law enforcement officials shall not commit any act of corruption.  They shall also rigorously oppose and combat all those acts.”

Ladies, and gentlemen, I reiterate, once again, the purpose of this article is not meant to nail you or for yours truly to act as a know-it-all, but kuchushisana since as emaSwati, sisivesinye. Please do understand that the Constitution of the country as the supposed, supreme law, also goes on further to mention the duties of us, as citizens of the country. In the same Chapter (V), it mentions: ‘Duties of the citizen’

  “63. The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms shall be the duty of every citizen to -
 (a) uphold and defend this Constitution and the law;
(b) promote the prestige and good name of Swaziland and respect the symbols of the nation;
(c) further the national interest and to foster national unity;
(d) respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others, and generally to refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons;
(e) promote democracy and the rule of law;
(f) work conscientiously in the lawfully chosen occupation of that citizen;
(g) protect and preserve public property, and to combat misuse and waste of public funds and property;
(h) co-operate with lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order..”

I tell you, ladies, and gentlemen, if only we could all subscribe to the dictates of this beautifully crafted instrument, there wouldn’t be this throttling of each other which is setting brother against brother, sister against sister, etcetera, and causing us to be sworn enemies.  We would all be living peacefully in an Eswatini - former Swaziland - which used to be the envy of neighbouring countries.

Finally, I sincerely hope, ladies, and gentlemen that you all took note of the words of one, Lobamba Lomdzala MP, the Honourable Marwick Khumalo when he moved a motion last week in Parliament saying “We unanimously made a House resolution and thanked the King for his speech and his directive to silence the guns and live in harmony.

I move that as Parliament, Executive, security forces and the public at large embrace this directive sincerely,”
As a parting shot, in the words of Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, who was a Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian: “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations...”

May you all have a blessed Sunday, officers of the law. - AND, PLEASE, LET US SILENCE THE GUNS!

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