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LOCKDOWN RAID KILLS GOGO

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MBABANE – An 85-year-old woman collapsed and died while members of the security forces raided her homestead on Thursday night.
The woman is one of those who sell alcoholic beverages in the area, located about two kilometres from the city centre.


The deceased and her family will not be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The woman’s eldest son, who was found sitting with his nephew and another relative, narrated how his mother had called out his name asking if he was okay after police and warders started kicking and hitting hard on his door.
He said after calling him about two times, his mother requested for assistance as she started having difficulty breathing.


Fear


“A security guard who lives nearby responded and assisted her while he called for an ambulance. This happened while I was inside my house as I could not open in fear of what the police could do to me,” he said.


The son, who is aged over 50 years old, said the three police officers and about four Correctional Services officers arrived just when he and his mother had locked themselves inside their separate flats as they were preparing to retire for the night.


“At first I was not even aware that there were police officers outside. When I heard that there was commotion I shouted and ordered everyone to go to sleep because I was of the idea that these were some of the customers who would come here during the day to buy alcohol since my mother made a living out of that business.”


He said shortly after that, he heard banging on his door and that is when he realised that it was actually officers of the law.
“They also threatened to arrest me and I could hear that they were slapping some people and even ordering them to tell the truth,” he alleged.
The man said he decided not to open despite that he was worried the officers would injure his relatives, including his frail mother.


He alleged that he heard a female officer who pleaded with the other officers to stop assaulting the people and that they only stopped after a long time.


Commotion


“When the commotion had died down, I went out of my room and headed straight to my mother’s house where I found neighbours gathered around her.
“I bro-ke down instantly when I noticed that she was not moving and the neighbours were blocking me from getting closer to where she was.
‘‘Actually, one of the women there was concerned that my mother’s feet were cold to the touch.”


He said when the Emergency Response Unit personnel arrived, they did not rush to take his mother to hospital, something that further convinced him that she had died.
“They took her away and I was later informed that she was left at the mortuary,” he said.


Violent


The man said he strongly believed that if the officers had not been violent upon arrival, his mother would not have died.
“It was just too much. They used force and started banging doors and beating people outside.


Grabbed


‘‘They even grabbed a young boy who had paid us a visit and said they were taking him to the police station because he was refusing to tell them the truth,” he alleged.


Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni confirmed the sad incident.
She said the officers conducted a raid at the elderly woman’s home where they seized some beer and left word that the woman should report to the police station yesterday morning.


“We were then informed that the woman could not appear because she had died. The officers who were on the ground have hinted that she may have been shocked by the arrival of the police,” she said.
 When asked what would become of the pending case, Mnguni said the police had not decided.


The 20-day lockdown began on Friday, March 27 after Parliament adopted the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Regulations of 2020.
In the regulations, it is stated that bars are expected to close while bottle stores where customers buy and leave, are allowed to operate between 11am and 6pm.


Fine


Failure to comply attracts a fine ranging from E10 000 for individuals and up to E500 000 for businesses.
The regulations made it clear that members of the three armed forces would be assigned to make sure that people adhered to the regulations that are aimed at minimising the spread of the coronavirus.


After the first few days of the lockdown, people started complaining about alleged brutality by the security personnel.
Some businesspeople even alleged that they were forced to close their businesses despite that they were given permission to operate.
These included supermarkets and small shops located both in Manzini and in Mbabane.


There were also allegations which suggested that some members of the armed forces demanded bribes so they would allow them to operate.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini commended the officers of the law for doing a good job in enforcing the partial lockdown.

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