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REMOVE COPS RESPONSIBLE FOR NHLANHLA’S DEATH - RESIDENTS

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SITEKI – Lugongolweni residents are calling for the suspension and subsequent removal of the police officers responsible for shooting businessman Nhlanhla Kunene.

Over 3 000 residents who were joined by members of political parties marched for almost three kilometers from Mzilikazi to the Siteki Police Station to hand over their petition to the Station Commander, Edwin Dlamini. Kunene was allegedly shot dead by police officers manning a roadblock last Thursday night around Mpaka.

Convene

The marchers convened at the Mzilikazi Puma Filling Station at around 8am. They were joined by members of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), Swaziland Liberation People’s Movement (SLPM), EFF Swaziland, Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).

Others were Lugongolweni Member of Parliament (MP) Enos Magongo, Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Simangele Mtsetfwa, NNLC President Sibongile Mazibuko, PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya, SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini and PUDEMO’s Head of International Relations Affairs Siboniso Mkhabela. The organisers of the march were Musa Sifundza, Sifiso Mabuza, Mcolisi Sinisela, Shepherd Dlamini and Khetha Dlamini. The marchers were joined by over 20 pupils from Lubombo Central and Good Shepherd High School.

Standstill

Traffic came to a standstill for almost two hours as the marchers made constant stops and danced while singing political songs. Some businesses closed as early as 9am. Police officers and army personnel were found in strategic positions leading to the town and around the town’s streets. The protesters marched around  Jacaranda Street where they sang and read speeches for over 30 minutes before delivering their petition. They were joined by over 100 public transport workers from the Siteki Bus Rank. As such, public transport was not available from 9am until 2pm after the marchers had dispersed. They also demanded an independent inquest into the death of Kunene and to hold those responsible accountable. They also demand the provision of support to the families of those who died at the hands of security personnel and compensation for the survivors.

Handing over the petition was Khetha Dlamini, who was one of the organisers. About 30 police officers with shields and batons were strategically positioned inside the police station to maintain peace and order. A police officer who appeared inside the police station with a gun almost sparked violence as the marchers pelted stones to police officers on guard. However, the situation was eventually calmed by the march organisers. “We state that our society will never be the same. The blood of the deceased was not spilt in vain. We will not surrender our call for self-rule and self-determination as people. We will continue the peaceful fight even in the face of adversity,” reads the petition. The youth also stated in the petition that they would continue to mourn all those who died while fighting for freedom.

Rights

They further noted that those who exercised their rights were subjected to incarceration such as Members of Parliament (MPs) in Hosea’s Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Ngwempisi’s Mthandeni Dube. “We demand justice for Nhlanhla Kunene, Mlondi Dlamini, Madamba Matsenjwa and Boy Ginindza, who was beaten and ran over by a police van,” read a section of the petition. One of the organisers, Sifundza, told the marchers that they were expected back tomorrow to get feedback on their demands. “Let us come in numbers on Friday (tomorrow) for our answers. Comrades, go back home and mobilise more people,” he said. On another note, the marchers further demanded the release of pupils who were arrested on Monday and yesterday by Siteki police. The pupils were later released.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko accompanied by Khetha Dlamini were invited by the Station Commander, Edwin, to inspect their cells and bring feedback to the marchers. “We have found that there were no pupils inside the police cells and were told they were released,” Khetha said, when addressing the marchers.

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