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SNUS PRESIDENT COLANI DEMANDS E2.1M FROM ARMY

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MBABANE – The President of Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Colani Maseko, is demanding E2.1 million from the army.

The demand is consequent to Maseko’s assault by members of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) on May 17, 2022 at Kwaluseni. The SNUS president has served the army commander with a letter of demand dated September 20, 2022. The attorney general (AG) said he had not yet seen the letter of demand. The AG stated that should it be brought to his attention, he would consult with their client. He clarified that the filing of a letter of demand did not make it legitimate.

Compensate

Maseko wants the army to compensate him in the sum of E1.5 million for pain and suffering, E0.5 million for emotional trauma and E100 000 for future medical expenses. In total, he is seeking compensation in the sum of E2 100 000 from the army. He has instructed Mbhamali Attorneys in the matter. Maseko stated in the letter of demand that he was unlawfully detained and further physically assaulted by a number of soldiers, whose full particulars were unknown to him. He said he was further made to roll on the ground and was immersed in a river near Kwaluseni. Maseko further alleged that he was also suffocated and assaulted, after which the soldiers dumped him at Matsapha Police Station. The Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) student mentioned that he was thereafter taken to Mkhiwa Clinic in Manzini. “Our client further instructs us that the sum of E2 100 000 be made payable to our offices. Hope you find this in order,” reads part of the letter of demand.

The veracity of these allegations will be tested in the event the matter reaches the courts. After being attended to at Mkhiwa Clinic, the High Court granted Maseko an order permitting him to seek specialised medical attention and be attended to by a psychologist in South Africa (SA) after he was assaulted by the soldiers. Since his travel document was kept by the police, as per his bail conditions, he approached the High Court with urgency to have the passport released to him. He wanted the travel document to be released to his possession in order for him to travel to SA to seek further medical attention. Acting Judge Thami Lawrence Dlamini granted the order.

The court also ordered the SNUS president to provide proof that he required specialised medical assistance. In his application at the time, Maseko told the court that on May 17, 2022, during a students’ protest at the University of Eswatini (UNESWA), Kwaluseni Campus, members of the UEDF kicked him with boots and made him to roll on the ground. He said on the same day, he was abducted by the soldiers and was allegedly taken to Engabezweni area where he was assaulted with fists and kicks. “I was subjected to being beaten with sticks and a rifle butt all over my body. As if that was not enough, I was made to roll in the mud next to the river and my head was further immersed in the river to the extent that I chocked and nearly died,” he stated.

The SANU student said he was fetched by his fellow students from the police station and they rushed him to Mkhiwa Clinic for medical attention. The SNUS president said he was admitted to the clinic until May 20, 2022. As a result of the assault, according to Maseko, he sustained injuries all over the body and now suffered from a continuous migraine and had flashbacks of trauma. He informed the court that during the assault, he sustained head injuries which, if not properly treated, would result in permanent mental disability.

Desired

He told the court that he desired to travel to SA for specialised medical attention and be attended to by a psychologist who could help him overcome the recurring flashbacks caused by the assault. On the day of the assault, May 17, 2022, UNESWA students were participating in a protest over the delayed disbursement of their allowances.  The protest was also over security concerns within the institution as three students had been sexually violated. The protest action by the students started around 7am through doing the vusela exercise. Maseko reportedly arrived around 8am at the Kwaluseni Campus on the fateful day. An hour later, soldiers arrived at the institution in an army truck, gave the students three minutes to leave the campus and they fired shots in the air.

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