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‘POLICE SHOT US AT CLOSE RANGE’

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MANZINI - A union leader, who was a marshal during the PSAs #Operation ‘shutdown’ Manzini, and an ordinary citizen, are among the 10 people who were injured during clashes with the police.


In fact, the marshal, Dumisani Nkuna, who is also the Secretary of the Manzini Branch of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), was allegedly shot twice at close range with rubber bullets during the clash between the marchers and the police on Wednesday afternoon.


On the same note, Fikile Nhlabatsi, who works for an insurance company in the hub of the country, where the march took place, claimed that she was also shot four times at close range. However, she said luckily she was hit by two rubber bullets in the right hand. As a result, she said two of her fingers were fractured.
Nkuna, who was speaking from his hospital bed at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, where he is currently admitted, alleged that he worked well with the police officers who were deployed in Manzini during the march on Wednesday.


However, he said he did not understand how the law enforcers decided to shot him at close range when they clashed with the marchers.


Working


He alleged that when the incident took place, he was busy working with the police to control the marchers who were somehow getting unruly. During the clash, he said he decided to run away with some of the marchers who ran down towards the Manzini Magistrates Court because he was starting to suffocate from the tear gas. 


“As we were running, I made sure that the marchers were in front of me so that I could control them,” he said. However, he narrated that when they reached a slight slope near Build It Hardware, he stopped so that the workers could not injure themselves as they ran down the slope which was filled with overgrown vegetation. He said when he looked back, he noticed armed police officers approaching in full sprint and he decided to turn towards them so that they could recognise him since he was wearing a marshal’s vest.


“I raised my hands and shouted; ‘Please do not shoot. I am a marshal’,” he alleged.
He said by then the officers were very close to him and he saw one of them aiming to shoot towards him, and he decided to take it to his heels.
“It was then that they shot me in the back. I fell down the slight slope and crawled towards the main road near Mzimnene River where I was assisted to get into a car and was rushed to hospital,” he alleged. Upon arrival at RFM Hospital, he alleged that he had to be taken to the theatre where two pieces of the rubber bullets were removed.


Decision


“I thank God for making a quick decision to run again because if I had delayed for a few minutes, maybe the rubber bullets would have pierced through my stomach and I do not know what would have happened,” he said.


On the same note, Nhlabatsi, who works for an insurance company in Manzini, said she was walking past Dups Holdings, going back to her workstation at Summer Place Complex when she came across people who were running away.


She said while she was thinking on her next move, because she could sense that things were not normal, she saw a police Casspir turning the corner towards them by the traffic lights. She said she heard gunshots and screams by the marchers who were running helter-skelter.
“I decided to hide in the hedge by Dups Holding’s main gate and as the sound of the gunshots continued, I was gripped by fear and faced down while covering my face with my hands.


“I heard two shots hitting the hedge right next to me and thereafter, two rubber bullets hit my right hand,” she alleged. Later on, she said she came out of the hedge and was taken by an ambulance from Dr Jonathan Dlamini of Lulama Health Centre which rushed her to RFM Hospital.  At the hospital, she said she was taken to the theatre where the rubber bullets were removed from his hand.


“The doctors told me that my first and fourth fingers (pinky and index finger respectively) were fractured,” she said.
Nhlabatsi is also currently admitted to RFM Hospital as she is awaiting to put plaster on her hand. On the other hand, a Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) member, Londiwe Mdlovu, who was part of the #Operation ‘shut down’ Manzini, was shot with a rubber bullet in her left arm.
When narrating her story, she said she found herself running with two other marchers when they fled from the police who were shooting rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them.


She said when they were passing Dups Holdings, they agreed that they should walk to KFC to relax and eat since the march had turned violent.
As they walked towards the traffic lights near Estel House, a group of armed police officers alighted from a speeding police Casspir and fired rubber bullets at them.


“I and one of the other marchers were shot in the arm and we decided to sit down.
“The officers jumped back to their Casspir which was waiting for them before Dups Holding main gate and they drove off,” she said.


Medical


She said they received medical attention from Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society, who cleaned their wounds and bandaged them.
The PSAs secretariat, which spoke with the voice of SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini and NAPSAWU Secretary General Thulani Hlatshwako, said they were still working on compiling a post-mortem report of the march. However, they mentioned that they had seen the aforementioned injured workers and the ordinary citizen.

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