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MBABANE – An army of police officers arrested a man who was found with two explosives, live bullets and an Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) uniform.

His apprehension increased the number of people who have been held by the police in connection with the ongoing spate of violent attacks to four. This is because in the wee hours of Monday morning, after a fierce shootout, police officers arrested two men and later on there was an addition of another suspect. The three are currently assisting the police with information. The fierce shootout happened after a spate of violent attacks where four trucks were burnt and four drivers were kidnapped. All this was said to have happened within two hours.


The man was arrested yesterday morning at the densely populated Mbhuleni, Matsapha. According to community members, police officers from Lukhozi Serious Crimes Unit and those from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) arrived at the house where the suspect resided at around 6am yesterday. The presence of the heavily armed police officers drew the attention of the community members who came out of their houses to witness what was happening in their vicinity. The witnesses gathered at the entrance of the homestead where the suspect resided. The witnesses said the contingent of police officers arrived driving in two vehicles. The onlookers claimed that when the police officers first arrived, they were in the company of a person who was not carrying any gun or wearing a bulletproof vest.


The bystanders said thereafter, the police vehicles left the premises. They said when the police vehicles left, some police officers stayed behind in strategic positions. The eyewitnesses supposed that when some of the police officers left, the suspect was overheard speaking on his mobile phone while still inside his house. The witnesses said when the police vehicles returned towards 7am, they were being followed by a midibus with a trailer. The midibus was inscribed Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) – Ordnance Disposal Unit. The witnesses said, this time when the police arrived at the residence where the suspect leased a flat, they went to his door and knocked. They said the suspect refused to open and remained inside his house.

The onlookers claimed that the law enforcers also sought the intervention of the suspect’s landlord to negotiate with him to open the door. However, this effort by the police officers, according to the witnesses, failed to get the suspect to surrender himself. The eyewitnesses said the back and forth lasted for over an hour. They said the police officers, some of whom were constantly on their mobile phones, decided to leave the premises. According to the bystanders, just before 9am, the police officers returned and eventually managed to open the door and gained entry into the house.


Upon gaining entry, the police questioned the suspect. “As they questioned him, they found two bombs, lots of live ammunition, diaries with details of meetings and the army uniform,” one of the witnesses said. The bystanders said they heard the police saying there was also lots of traditional medicine found inside the house and regalia of one of the political parties in the country. The eyewitnesses said they were extensively shocked as one of the police officers informed them that the whole of the Mbhuleni population would have died if one of the explosives would have gone off. They said this shocked them as it was something they did not suspect could be in their vicinity.

Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni, confirmed that a male aged 43 of Madulini was arrested and charged, for among other things, being found with 20 live rounds of ammunition, two explosives and UEDF uniform. Mnguni said the charges to be preferred against the suspect would be known once prosecutors had given them feedback on the docket opened by the police.


Meanwhile, the arrest of the suspect happened when police officers were investigating the killing of law enforcers and arson attacks, which had resurfaced. This is because between May 24, 2022 and August 12, 2022, five security officers had been killed. This was followed by a quiet period of about 10 weeks before five security personnel were killed in two weeks again.
There has also been a spate of bombings and arson attacks in the country, which date back to the political unrest of June/July 2021.  The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) report titled ‘Kingdom of Eswatini Conflict Insights’ claimed that by the end of June 28, 2021, about 28 protesters had been shot and by July 6, 2021, it was supposed 45 people had been killed. These figures are low compared to the over 100 people, which political parties purported were killed by security personnel at the height of the political unrest. This unrest has intensified calls for a national dialogue.

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