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MBABANE – A mini-war between trade unionists and police left two people seriously injured.

This was during a during a protest march organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), yesterday.
It was around midday when emotions overcame both parties, which led to a physical confrontation.

As a result, the two protestors, a male and female, had to be rushed to hospital after clashing with the police.
Earlier, the demonstrators and police pushed and shoved each other along Mdada Street near the Geology Department entrance.
The bone of contention was that the unionists wanted to deliver a petition at the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, situated along Gwamile

Street. adamant

However, police were adamant that they would not allow them to use the route. In fact, the officers had formed a human barricade at the corner of Mdada and Dzeliwe Streets.
The confrontation ensued after some of the unionists tried to force their way through the human wall formed by the men in blue.
The police retaliated by assaulting those who tried forcing their way through. Returning fire with fire, the protestors pelted the officers with stones.

Then all hell broke loose.
In a bid to control the rowdy crowd of about 1 000 protestors, police used tear gas, stun grenades and a water cannon.
When the fracas started, the Principal Secretary at the Deputy Prime Minister’s office Khangezile Mabuza literally ran towards her offices situated about 50 metres from the scene and returned later after being informed that the situation had been normalised.

After firing the tear gas, police then chased after the dispersing marchers who tried to find shelter at the Geology Department.
That is where they cornered the male and female, beating them with batons and kicks all over their bodies.
Police dragged the injured male to the main entrance before dumping him on the road.
While being ushered to the road, the male, who was later identified as Mjembeni Mathobela, was overheard asking the police, “ningishayelani?” 
This is loosely translated to, “why are you assaulting me?”
With blood oozing from a head injury, he went straight to some officers who were standing next to a casspir still demanding answers.
After a few minutes of walking around, Mathobela fell to the ground, hitting his head on the tarmac. His colleagues, who had regrouped, rushed to assist him while police stood and watched from a distant. Njabulo Dlamini, a teacher by profession was the first on the scene.
Dlamini had to improvise by using a plastic bag for surgical gloves while tending to Mathobela’s injuries.
After administering first aid, Mathobela was carried to an ambulance before being driven to Mbabane Government Hospital.
Worth noting, the protestors had to push and shove the police who were blocking them from taking the injured man into the ambulance.
The female is said to have fallen and injured her arm and leg while running away from the police.  She was also driven to the same hospital.     
Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said the report they got from those on the scene was that one person was injured. The police spokesperson explained that the person was injured by stones thrown by the protestors.
“His condition is not bad. And no one has been arrested for injuring the man,” she said.
After the fracas which lasted for about 20 minutes, leaders of TUCOSWA and senior police officers held a five minute caucus, discussing a way-forward.
During the discussions, the police suggested that the march should be called off, citing safety as the main reason. The unionists pleaded that it should continue, assuring that their members would behave.
The parties reached a consensus that the protest march should continue. And indeed the protestors went on to deliver petitions at various government ministries including the Prime Minister’s office.
Ministries that were visited include the Ministry of Finance, Education and Training, Public Service, Home Affairs, Health and Labour and Social Security.
Earlier, TUCOSWA had delivered a petition at the Swaziland Sugar Association (SSA).

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