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MBABANE – Tensions reached beyond boiling point yesterday after police officers reportedly used tasers on nurses who were ‘walking’ to the Ministries of Public Service and that of Health, to deliver petitions.

The bone of contention was a dispute about which route they should use as they went about their mission. Some nurses under the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) claimed that police manhandled and used tasers on them during their march to the two ministries. The nurses claimed that they were shoved out of a certain store along Gwamile Street and further assaulted with a taser by a male officer. They reported their grievance to the Mbabane Police Deputy Station Commander Amos Dlamini, who had a conversation with the affected nurse. “That male police officer manhandled me and further used a taser without any provocation. As a result I had to leave my money with the shop attendant,” narrated the affected nurse as she pointed at the police officer who allegedly used the taser on her.

Dlamini later gave her permission to go back to the shop she was referring to and get her money. This was at a stage when police and those who participated in the march clashed several times over which route they should use to go to the ministries.
Police instructed the marchers, who included members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) to mention a few; to use Zwide Street and not any other. The marchers argued that they could not use the said route because their intention was not to go to the Central Transport Administration (CTA) but to the ministries. SWADNU President Bheki Mamba had earlier addressed them and informed them that the Municipal Council of Mbabane declined to give them permission to march along Mdzimba Avenue (street along the Freedom Park). Mamba said although they were aware that this was a public road which they could use, they would respect the municipal council and not march along it.

“Comrades, we will not march but we will disperse, walk to the Engen Filling Station without singing and then march to the Ministry of Health,” Mamba said. However, as they dispersed and walked in different directions, police blocked them. They particularly formed a three-line human shield along Mdzimba Avenue and blocked any person wearing a SWADNU t-shirt and others whom they suspected were part of the march. The first line of the police barricade was formed by police officers who were armed with batons. About two metres behind these was another line of officers who carried shields and were armed with batons. Behind them was yet another line of police officers who wore riot gears, carried batons while others were armed with guns.
Meanwhile, behind them there was a Casspir and a riot vehicle from the Operational Support Service Unit (USSU). There was pushing, shoving and exchange of heated words as those who were part of the march argued that they were not marching but walking to where they would then embark on their intended march.

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