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PPA MARCH STOPPED, LEADERS DETAINED

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MATSAPHA - Three PPA leaders and other members were detained as the police enforced a court ruling quashing their proposed factory to factory march in Matsapha.


The Political Party Assembly (PPA) march was supposed to take place at the industrial hub of the country yesterday, but was stopped by a court order on Wednesday night and the police were ordered to ensure that the court ruling was enforced.


 The affected leaders were; the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) President Jan Sithole, Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC) President Sibongile Mazibuko and Zodwa Mkhonta, who is the Deputy President of the proscribed political entity, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).


In fact, information gathered was that they were allegedly harassed and detained at Matsapha Police Station so that they could not interact with their members.
According to the PPA leaders, the police first pounced on Mazibuko and Mkhonta, who were first to arrive at the assembly point. They said the police allegedly harassed them and told them that it was illegal for them to be there.


Ordered


Later on, they said Sithole arrived and the police allegedly ordered him not to step out of his car because it was illegal for him to be there.
Thereafter, the PPA leaders said the police took them to the police station where they were detained for about an hour before they were released with stern instructions that they should not go to the assembly point.


“As they released us, they also kept a close eye on our movements and as a result, we stood in front of the police station where we got a chance to speak to some leaders of trade unions and civil society groups,” the PPA leaders said.


They said the purpose of the meeting yesterday was to inform their members about the court ruling which was issued at the 11th hour on Wednesday night, which was hours before their proposed march.


Furthermore, they argued that if they were allowed use the country’s electronic media as political parties, they were going to issue an announcement through the media on the very same night when the court ruling was issued.


“However, because we do not have access to the country’s electronic media, we had to deliver the updates manually,” they said.
They added that since the last communiqué to the members was that they would meet at the assembly point for the march yesterday morning, they had to deliver the updates there.


Confirmed


On top of that, a yet to be confirmed number of PPA members were rounded up by police officers from the Serious Crime Unit (Lukhozi). This took place at the quashed march assembly point; Akunalutfo Complex, which is widely known as Mashayitafula in Matsapha. They were loaded into the police chartered Toyota Quantum kombis and detained in Matsapha and Manzini, while others were allegedly dumped some few kilometres away from the assembly point.
They said well-known political activist and unionist Basil Thwala, was among the detained ordinary members of PPA.


In fact, the members of Lukhozi grabbed Thwala in front of the leaders while they were still waiting near the police station.
According to the PPA leaders, when they called him later on, he told them that the police allegedly first dumped him in a forest near Phocweni Army Barracks.


Later on, they said he claimed that the same police took him to the Manzini Police Regional Headquarters where he spent about 30 minutes before he was taken back to Matsapha, near the assembly point.
It was noted that when the PPA members were supposed to assemble, they found their assembly point littered with armed police officers and warders, who did not allow them to even stand nearby.


Allowed


In fact, the members of the two security forces literally drove them away and told them that they would only be allowed at the area once the court said so.
According to the PPA leaders, on Wednesday night, the court ruled against holding the march on the grounds that the State lacked security to monitor as police were deployed at the ongoing Incwala Ceremony. On top of that, they said the court said their case failed to meet a certificate of urgency.

Given that this ruling happened in the evening, they said they resolved that the leadership should inform the membership and the public at their assembly point and disperse them without marching.


On the other hand, following the alleged harassment and detention of PPA leaders and members, the organisers said the police violated the Bill of Rights.
However, they said this issue would be among those which would be discussed in their post-mortem meeting to be held on a date yet to be announced. 

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