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COPS ACCUSED OF USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO TRACK STRIKERS

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MANZINI – Civil servants, mainly teachers, are upset! They are not a happy bunch after learning of allegations that members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) were now using social media platforms to track those who were involved in the recent strike action over the cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA).


It has been gathered that some teachers were allegedly invited by the police to the Manzini Police Station, where they were ‘questioned’ about their involvement in the mayhem during the strike action.


The teachers informed their union leaders that the things which the officers asked them about was information they (teachers) had shared on social media.
It was gathered that teachers who went to the police station yesterday morning were accompanied by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President Mbongwa Dlamini and Sikelela Dlamini the Secretary General. According to the SNAT leadership, there were other civil servants who were also called by the police but could not make it yesterday for various reasons. 


Calls


However, before they (teachers) went to the police station, they met the SNAT leaders at SNAT Centre where they briefed them about the calls they allegedly received from the police.


They said the police officers who allegedly called them admitted that they did not know them, but they had a clue that they were teachers. To prove that, they alleged that the law enforcers used their nicknames, which they use on social media platforms, as they did not have their actual first and last names.
Again, they alleged that the officers were clear of the subjects they were teaching and that was another reason why they believed they were being monitored on social media platforms, as they created social media groups according to the subjects they tought.

They said in these social media groups, the topics they discuss included their welfare, like the cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA) issue and the strike action among others.


“I believe they just pick individuals who post or comment about the strike and CoLA issues,” the educators said as they spoke to their union leaders.
Once again, the SNAT members revealed that the manner in which the law enforcers invited them to the police station and their tone, left them wondering what they had done wrong.


“This was because they told us that they were inviting us to the police station for our involvement in the clash between the law enforcers and marchers during the recent civil servants’ public sensitisation march, which was held in Manzini on October 2, 2019,” they alleged.
However, when the SNAT leaders and the teachers arrived at the Manzini Police Station yesterday morning, they were told that the officer who was in charge of the matter was attending to a case in court.


SNAT Secretary General Sikelela said when they asked why their members were called and invited to the police station without engaging the union; he said the officers told them that they needed their statements as they would be witnesses in some cases which had been opened.
However, the SNAT secretary general said they wondered how their members would be witnesses because no one had notified them that they had registered them as eyewitness in their cases.


“In fact, our argument was that so far the union is not aware that there are members who opened cases with the police because we believe that they would do so through the association,” the secretary general said.
Thereafter, he said he then asked the police not to call their members individually, but should contact the union if they were needed by the law enforcers. He said the union would bring them to the police station.


Confirmed


Meanwhile, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that there were civil servants who were invited to the Manzini Police Station. However, she said the only people who were called were those who were listed as witnesses to cases reported by other PSA members.


It is worth noting that during the march in Manzini, about 13 people were injured and they included nine civil servants, three police officers and an ordinary citizen who was not part of the demonstration.


The march was part of the programme of action for PSAs on the strike action over CoLA of 2017/18 financial year, where they were demanding 7.85 per cent. On the other hand, government offered them zero per cent.

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