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MBABANE – A 16th incident of shooting involving members of the security forces occurred yesterday morning.

Of all the 16 shooting incidences, three police officers and two soldiers have been killed, while the rest of the members of the security clusters escaped or survived the shooting.
In May 2022, a soldier was killed by unknown people at New Village in Manzini. Popularly known as Me Dlamini, he was killed after attending a prayer session. The latest casualty in the security cluster is a 46-year-old policeman who was shot dead at Mathangeni in Matsapha at around 6:30am yesterday. He was reportedly shot once on the head by an unknown person who, after the incident, is understood to have crossed the road and walked towards Logoba direction.

The deceased police officer was stationed at the Matsapha Police Academy, said Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati in a press statement.In less than 24 hours, the residents of Mathangeni heard two gunshots – one in the evening and the other in the morning, telling the Times SUNDAY desk that they were now worried and puzzled by these shootings. Still at Mathangeni, a 49-year- old soldier was shot on the stomach by an unknown man at about 8pm on Friday.Now believably depicting a shooting zone, there are two fatal incidents involving police officers to have occured at Mathangeni in Matsapha in less than a month – the killing of Sibusiso Matsebula and yesterday’s death of the 46-year-old policeman.


However, pertaining to incidents of shootings at Mathangeni, there are three that have happened there when taking into account the 49-year-old soldier who was shot in the stomach on Friday. Observably, this place is not far from where police officers are trained and equipped. They are equipped at Matsapha Police Academy. Mathangeni, synonymous with market stalls and shops on the sides of the road, is within reasonable proximity from Matsapha Police Station. It is also not that far from Matsapha International Airport where there is an army base.
Superintendent Vilakati said Matsapha Police were investigating cases of murder and attempted murder. “The 46-year-old officer who was stationed at the Police Academy was shot once on the head by an unknown person,” she said.On the other hand, she said the 49-year-old man resided at KaShali in Manzini. Vilakati requested the public for any information that would assist the investigations into the circumstances that led to the fatal shooting of the officer and the attempted murder of the army personnel. She said any information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) should be forwarded to Manzini Regional Crime Branch Officer (RCBO) Thabo Hlophe at 7606 8570 or Matsapha Desk Officer, Inspector Langa at 7668 6833. Hlophe himself is a victim of a shooting as he escaped bullets at KaKhoza in November 2021.Meanwhile, triggered by yesterday’s shooting, police officers from the Operation Support Services Unit (OSSU) and plain clothes officers rushed to Mathangeni in the morning to provide security to their colleagues who were collecting evidence through the use of technology. This is the Ballistic Unit. The OSSU officers allowed the people to continue with their daily routines as they did not barricade the place.


Most of the people said they heard the gunshot, but didn’t identify the shooter. They could only see a uniformed police officer lying on the ground. This was after he had been shot on the head. Another one said she was about 500 metres away from the crime scene where the officer was gunned down, but she heard the gunshots, which terrified her to an extent that she considered relocating to Mhlaleni or Ngwane Park. “It’s no longer safe here,” she said. It is not certain where the policeman was heading to as there are several theories about his death. One theory suggests that he was going to work at the academy and another one assumes that he was from a nightshift as he was attached to the Royal Protection Unit. Last month, Constable Sibusiso Matsebula was shot at around 7pm at Mathangeni.His death occurred 48 hours after the killing of Zinhle Mavuso who was shot dead by unknown people at the traffic circle near Manzini Club.

Mavuso was in the company of Philani Mntungwa who was rushed to Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital after sustaining injuries. Constable Matsebula was a police officer attached to the Traffic Department at the Matsapha Police Station. He is said to have left the police station with a colleague to attend to a reported road traffic accident around Mathangeni. The purported road traffic accident was reported through a phone call to the Matsapha Police Station. It was also reported that Matsebula, when approaching Mathangeni, drove slowly on assumption that there was an accident. It turned out the reported accident was a hoax as men emerged and fired gunshots at the car he was driving. The bullets hit him while the passenger, a police officer, managed to bolt out of the car and ran away. Two policemen at Lubulini were also attacked.In May 2022, two traffic police officers stared death in the face when gunmen opened fire on the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) caravan normally parked at the cooling station for trucks at Mangwaneni.


The cooling station is situated along the MR3 Public Road, behind the prime minister’s residence. The shooting incident happened at around 12 midnight. One of the police officers was shot in the chin while going about his duties inside the caravan. His colleague escaped with no injuries. The gunmen also fired several shots at a truck that was parked near the cooling station. This was after the truck driver had raised the alarm after hearing the gunshots. The truck driver, who was only identified as Matse, was not injured. He told this publication that he was travelling to the Republic of South Africa, and after ascending the Malagwane Hill; he felt sleepy and decided to take a nap. He said he parked the truck adjacent to the cooling station and slept.

He said he was woken up by several gunshots and he screamed, which might have angered the gunmen, who later came for him. He stated that moments later, the assailants emerged on the passenger side of the truck, near the overhead footbridge behind the prime minister’s residence, and opened fire. In February 2022, Bheki Maziya, a member of the army based at Mbuluzi Army Barracks, was shot dead by unknown people at Lonhlupheko in the Lubombo Region. The killing happened near Gugulethu Bar situated next to the T-junction from Manzini-Simunye and Siteki at around 11pm.

It is understood that Maziya was enjoying alcoholic beverages with friends on the day of the incident. One resident said a sedan parked about 50 metres away from where he and friends were enjoying their alcoholic beverages. One man is said to have alighted from a Honda Fit and began to open fire at Maziya. This happened a few days after an attempt to shoot warders at OK Stores, Kwaluseni. A police officer stationed at KaPhunga was also shot while he was driving a car. It is understood that he was driving to the police station when he heard gunshots. The bullet hit him on the back and came out in his chest area. Four gunshots were fired and one hit him. He died on the spot. Last year, Constable Bongani Bernard Maphalala was shot after about five armed men staged a robbery at the Siphofaneni Buy Cash Hardware store, where an amount of about E200 000 was reportedly stolen.


Members of the security forces have not only experienced shootings, but their homes were also burnt. Senior Superintendent Clement Sihlongonyane’s rondavel was burnt by unknown people in September 2021. Narrating to the Times of Eswatini, Sihlongonyane said the arsonists crawled through a fence and threw the petrol bomb that ignited fire on the thatched rondavel.  He said his dogs ran away after the explosion. In its performance report, REPS mentioned that it incurred losses amounting to about E2 million when properties, homesteads and vehicles of officers and the organisations were damaged.

It is stated in the report that the compensation of the officers for the losses was being addressed by government. The compensation of the officers is covered in terms of Sections 85 (1) and 86 (1) of the Police Service Act, No. 22 of 2018. The section reads: “Police officers whose properties were damaged through acts of sabotage and terrorism are eligible to claim and be compensated for the damaged property at government’s expense. The report further states that the period under review also saw the acts of violence, in particular those manifesting through arson attacks, that were being perpetrated around the country, continuing to the detriment of the quest for peace and socio-economic development. It is said that the sporadic arson attacks have affected individuals, businesses as well as the police service in terms of the organisation’s facilities and properties of individual police officers.
Damaged police infrastructure happened at the following places: KaShewula, Luve, Mpaka, Ngculwini, Madlangempisi, Fairview North, Phumulamcashi, Matsapha Police Camp,   Malkerns, Lubulini Station Commander’s house;

It is said that the activities linked to the civil unrest in the country had taken a new twist and shocking dimension, whereby police officers were targeted by gunmen. According to the report, there were five cases where police officers were shot, two of which had fatal outcomes that were recorded during the reporting period. A house belonging to Prince Sicalo, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, was petrol-bombed in February 2022. The house was under construction at Mbekelweni. crossroads. Asked what can be done to stop the killing of members of the security clusters, Thulani Maseko, the Chairman of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF), said they understood the situation to mean emaSwati were at crossroads.

He said the organisations in MSF and the broad Mass Democratic Movement had long committed to a peaceful form of struggle. He mentioned that the sad and painful fact was that all methods of peaceful engagement had been met with violent force from the State. “We have warned and we repeat it here for emphasis that violence from the State can only do one thing and one thing only: Trigger more violence,” Maseko said. The MSF chairman said: “The attack on members of the security forces is but one form of violence, which is plainly regrettable.” He went on to say that it had always been the view of the pro-democracy movement that the violence from the State and from elsewhere could only be arrested if the King and government ‘earnestly commit to the process of dialogue and negotiation’.

He stated that the King ‘holds the key to the road to genuine and lasting peace’. He added: “There is absolutely no reason at all why the process has been unduly delayed yet the situation of stagnation is fertile ground for more violence.” He emphasised that the targeting and killing of members of the security forces was most unfortunate. “We who are fighting for democracy are actually fighting for the very life and soul of the nation,” he said.


He further said: “The regime has taken so many lives.” Maseko lamented that lives were being lost allegedly in the name of the struggle for democracy. He added: “The loss of life must be avoided. The pain of losing life cannot be taken for granted, from either side.Death is unbearable no matter the victim.”  He said the fact that Tinkhundla had allegedly killed so many innocent lives did not justify the killing of members of the security forces. The senior lawyer and revered politician said there had to be a way to resolve the impasse, but targeting “life is not the way, even if the State had the audacity to do so. We say this understanding that there may be those who feel compelled by conscience to defend themselves and defend the people against State terrorism,” he said.

All in all, Maseko said if anyone was responsible for the ongoing violence and unfortunate deaths of members of the security forces, the King and government should consider the violence that culminated in the death of over 40 people last year. He said those citizens were innocent and defenceless. He said it was very bad that they continued to deliberately refuse to engage in an all-inclusive, participatory and meaningful dialogue. “It is our view that to prevent further loss of life and damage to property, the King and government must unequivocally commit to creating a climate conducive to talks,” he appealed. He said such an environment required first and foremost; the release of all political prisoners, in particular the two Members of Parliament; Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube and the withdrawal of charges against Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane.

He said the environment also required the unconditional return and safe passage back home of all exiles; the total and unconditional unbanning of all political parties, including the removal of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) from the list of terrorist entities. He also called for the following to be done – The creation of a political climate where all political leaders can interact freely with the people and unfettered access to communities to share ideas;  An enabling environment for the free operation of the media to guarantee media freedom, both private and the public media; The removal of all laws, including traditional and customary practices that hinder free political activity.


“Of course in order for these to happen, the King and his government must allow SADC to facilitate the dialogue process,” he suggested. As the SADC Organ Troika meets next week Thursday (July 21, 2022) in Pretoria, he said they would seek to impress that the dialogue process should start without any further delay and that it be locked to specific timelines and be time-bound. “We cannot afford a situation where the King is allowed to undermine both SADC and the people of Swaziland (Eswatini). Life is sacred. The violence must stop,” he insisted. Based on the ongoing destruction of property and killing of members of the security forces, Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini had said the environment was not conducive for the dialogue.Some shooting incidences involving police, Police survivors (number may not be conclusive), Two at Cooling Station in Mbabane, Two at Lubulini; Thabo Hlophe at KaKhoza;  One at Mathangeni who ran away; One survived at Manzini Traffic Circle; One at KaPhunga.

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