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COP ASSAULTED IN UBOMBO SUGAR PROTEST

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SITEKI – A police officer sustained head injuries when he was assaulted by Ubombo Sugar Limited workers on Tuesday.

The police officer was part of the contingent of law enforcers from the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) who were deployed to maintain peace and order and ensure that property was not vandalised during the workers’ picketing. According to a shop steward who was present during the picketing, the police officers had allegedly fired tear gas canisters when they were trying to stop the workers from marching on the main road along Lavumisa-Siphofaneni. Yesterday, the police officer’s image circulated on social media platform, Facebook. It was said the workers were over 500 in number.

Marching

The incident happened when the workers were marching from the sugar factory to the main offices situated about a kilometre away. The shop steward claimed that a confrontation started when the workers pelted the police officers with stones, who retaliated by firing the tear gas canisters. “After firing the tear gas canisters, the workers ran in all directions to avoid inhaling the gas. At that instance, some of them had cornered a few police officers and I was told that one of them was assaulted,” narrated the shop steward. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed the matter.

Vilakati said the police officer, together with his colleagues, were directing and stopping the marchers from using a route they were prohibited from using. She said the confrontation ended in chaos whereby the law enforcers were assaulted. She said the marchers became violent when attempts to control them were made. “They pelted police vehicles with stones and that resulted in one of the police officers sustaining injuries in the process,” she said. Meanwhile, Ubombo Sugar Limited workers started their picketing on September 30.

The workers are demanding 11.5 per cent while the company has offered five per cent. Talks between workers’ representatives, Swaziland Agricultural Plantation Workers Union (SAPWU) and company’s management, have been dragging for over a month now.

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