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MBABANE – The first day of examinations for Form Vs was marred by heavy police presence, who in some of the schools took over the invigilation.

As early as 7:30am, officers from Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) and His Majesty’s Correctional Services, who were in uniform and plain clothes, were deployed to almost all the schools in the country.

Concerns of police officers taking over the invigilation process in some of the schools were raised by head teachers in the four regions of the country, who reported to the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
The officers were driving in private white vehicles believed to be those hired by government to be used by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) during the national elections.

SNAT Secretary General Zweli Mndzebele alleged that police officers forcefully took over the invigilation job in some of the schools.
Mndzebele blamed government, adding that they had planned for the exams to carry on in the manner things were happening.
He said in other schools, police officers were guarding by the gates, while head teachers and invigilators continued with their responsibilities during the examinations.

Mndzebele said following what happened, they would be having a meeting today to find out which schools became victims of the security officers, as they had to submit a complete report to the Ministry of Education. He said they could not dwell much on the consequences of what penned out during the examinations but what they could confirm was that their strike action will take place on November 23, 2018.

Mndzebele said government was well aware of what would happen after the strike.
Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) President Welcome Mhlanga reiterated Mndzebele’s statement.
Mhlanga said some of the schools confirmed that there was an alleged altercation between officers and head teachers on the responsibilities and roles to be played by each. 

“Head teachers received reports from officers who talked in harsh tones that they will be coming to run exams in their schools,” said Mhlanga.
According to Mhlanga, the officers told the head teachers that they were currently on strike and they had come to run the examinations.
“The head teachers were disillusioned by the turn of events and did not know what to do next.”

He said head teachers did not like the approach from some of the security officers.
However, Mhlanga said the general report was that examinations went well across the country, except the few concerns from Shiselweni and Lubombo Regions.

This confusion, he attributed to the security officers not understanding their roles in the different schools they had been assigned to.
He said the officers had no clue whether to run the invigilation while head teachers took a back seat.
Mhlanga said following the reports, he had personally informed the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training Dr Sibongile Mtshali to correct the anormally.


Further, he said when the head teachers continued to be subjected to such treatment, they would eventually take a back seat. Mhlanga also  said the invigilation exercise would be expensive for government as they had to hire a lot of people.
When sought for comment, Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, said they had not received any report of officers taking over the invigilation job.

Vilakati said police officers were deployed to maintain peace and order and ensure that it prevailed in all the schools following the strike action
She said schools knew where to report if there was an anormally which they experienced.

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