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MANZINI - Hell broke loose and a police officer was assaulted with a knobkerrie during a clash with consumers who demonstrated through the streets of Manzini without a permit.

The incident took place yesterday during a march, to deliver a petition at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade offices in the ministerial building in Manzini. The march was organised by the Swaziland Consumer Forum (SWACOF) and the petition was about consumers’ concerns over the cost of living, which continues to rise.


The march started at the four-way stop of Martin Street near Cheapest Tailors to the ministerial building, which houses a number of government departments, including Regional Administration, revenue, regional education office, Home Affairs, Labour and Social Security together with Commerce, Industry and trade. When the consumers, who comprised members of various organisations, including political parties and trade unions, arrived at the ministerial building, operations were disturbed as members of the public who were in a queue for different services ran away.
However, some of them became bystanders together with the workers from the various government departments who left their workstation to observe the petition delivery.

When the petition was supposed to be delivered, the organisers sent a representative to ask the officials in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade to come to receive it. However, the representative said the officials he found in the offices asked that three of them should go and handover the petition. Thereafter, the protesters told their representative to go back and tell the ministry’s officials that if they do not come out to receive the petition in two minutes, they would all storm into the offices.

After giving the official the feedback, the representative came back with two officials and the petition was delivered peacefully. After that, the protesting consumers engaged in a peaceful march from the ministerial building to the traffic lights near Eswatini National Provident Fund (ENPF) building, where they then occupied Ngwane Street and marched to Lifestyle Centre. During the march, the consumers occupied both lanes, something which affected the free flow of traffic. At Lifestyle Centre, they went straight to Manzini SuperSpar where they said they wanted to show support and that they were in solidarity with the workers, who had recently complained about sexual harassment among other things.Worth noting is that during the march, no uniformed police officers were seen.


Again, operations were affected at the supermarket as the protesters blocked the main entrance/exit of the store as they sang and danced to political songs and slogans. While the consumers were protesting at the supermarket’s main entrance/exit, two plain clothes police officers from Manzini Police Station arrived and went through the protesters into the store. However, some of the protesters spotted the law enforcers and alerted the others about their presence. Inside the supermarket, the police officers approached some members of the management staff.

While they were speaking with management, some of the protesters, some of whom were armed with sticks and knobkerries, approached them and aggressively demanded that the law enforcers should get out of the store.They demanded that they excuse them. A heated confrontation between the protesters and law enforcers ensured. The members of the management staff tried to intervene, but in vain as more and more protesters joined those who demanded that the law enforcers should leave.

Later on, some leaders of the organisations who were present, including the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President Mbongwa Dlamini, intervened and escorted the police officers out of the supermarket, while calming the protesters on the other hand. One of the organisers of the march, Mphandlana Shongwe, who is also an executive member of SWACOF, said he saw the confrontation between the marchers and the two police officers.

However, he left early and no one was injured at that time. However, he said there was a police officer, who was assaulted, he could tell who he was because one of them was allegedly provocative. Meanwhile, Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni said they learnt that there was a group of people who demonstrated in the streets of the city yesterday.

Mnguni said as a police service, they were not informed about the demonstration. However, she said when they learnt about the incident, they sprang into action. She said this after she was asked where the police were when the march took place and why they did not attend to it. Again, Mnguni added that two police officers who were patrolling had a confrontation with the protesters while at Manzini SuperSpar.  She said one of the officers was assaulted with a knobkerrie on the head and he was later taken to hospital, where he was treated and discharged. She said the police were investigating the matter.

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