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E1.2M DAMAGES AS SOLDIER’S HOUSE TORCHED

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NGCULWINI - In what could be termed as a direct response to the recent soldiers’ brutality, a senior military man suffered damages amounting to about E1.2 million after his three-bedroom house was torched.

The incident took place on Tuesday at around 10pm at Corporal Michael ‘Manjengeni’ Vilakati’s home at Ngculwini, in the Manzini Region. Worth noting is that, this happened a few hours after members of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) forced students to roll on the ground and assaulted them during a protest action at the University of Eswatini (UNESWA), Kwaluseni Campus. One of the affected students is Colani Maseko, the President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), who is a student at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU).

Brutality

The arson attack on the soldier’s house was linked to the said solders’ brutality, as per a video clip which was taken supposedly by the arsonists while the house was on fire and circulated on social media platforms. This is because in the video clip, a male voice is heard saying; “It is the beginning of the end. Kuyasentjetwa. Lamasotja lebekabulala bantfu, kuyasentjetwa la. Umbhedze lonetingubo ziyakhala, zikhalile It is the beginning of an end. “We are working. The soldiers who were brutalising people, we are working here. A bed with blankets, they are crying (sic).” Meanwhile, the soldier, who was found at his home talking to police officers from the Manzini Police Regional Headquarters, said he was not in a good state to speak. He said if he could speak, he might end up saying something wrong. Therefore, he referred this publication to his wife. He added that he was also at work – Phocweni Army Barracks, when the incident took place and arrived later in the night.

Laptop

Thereafter, the soldier’s wife, Phetsile Tsabedze, said even though she was also not at home when the incident happened, she mentioned that their son, who is a student at UNESWA, Kwaluseni Campus, arrived at the homestead on Tuesday evening. She said after putting his staff in the house, which included books and a laptop, among other things, he visited one of his friends in a neighbouring homestead. She said it was around 9:30pm when their son left the house. She also said while he was at his friend’s house, the friend went out with the intention to urinate and he heard him shouting that there was fire at his home. Thereafter, she mentioned that they then yelled for help and ran to the house to try and retrieve some of the items which were inside.

“Unfortunately, there was nothing much they could do, but they managed to take out some kitchen utensils,” Tsabedze said. When assessing the damage, she said it was about E1.2 million and her husband concurred with her. She also mentioned that they believed that the arson attack was linked to the incident which involved the SNUS president and other students, which took place at UNESWA, Kwaluseni Campus earlier on the day. She said this was because of the message they heard from a video of the burning house, which was circulated on social media platforms. Again, she said it was public knowledge that after the incident which took place at the university, some people posted on social media platforms that they would burn police and soldiers’ homes. However, she said the painful part was that her husband did not work on such operations, as he was dealing in football. Further, she said they understood that life was like that.

Arsonists

This publication gathered that the unknown arsonists supposedly gained entry underneath the fence by the gate. It was also gathered that Eswatini National Fire and Emergency Services (ENFES) personnel and police officers were called, but when they arrived, they found that the damage had already been done. Furthermore, more police officers attended to the scene yesterday morning and they included those from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Serious Crimes Unit (Lukhozi), Scenes of Crime and K9 Unit, among others.

Confirm

Meanwhile, UEDF Public Affairs Officer, 2nd Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo, said her office could only confirm knowledge of the matter in question. She said the soldier had been released to assess the situation on the ground and had not yet given them feedback. She said until then, her office was not in a position to give detailed information. On the other hand, at the time of compiling this report, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said her office had not received a report about the incident.
This is not the first military man’s house to be targeted by arsonists. In December 2021, unknown arsonists petrol-bombed a soldier’s two-room house at KaLuhleko, near Bhunya Police Station.  Almost everything inside was reduced to ashes.

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