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2 SHOT AT MARCH FOR THULANI MASEKO

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MATSAPHA – A petition delivery march meant to demand justice for assassinated Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko turned violent when two marchers were shot by police officers.

The shot people include Samuel Hlandze, who has been identified as a member of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO), and a Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) member, who was identified only by his surname, Mtsetfwa. Political Party Assembly (PPA) Chairperson Nombulelo Motsa said Hlandze also has a disability.  

The pair was shot about 30 minutes after political parties and civil society groups had delivered the petition to the Manzini Regional Headquarters (RHQ). The march started at exactly noon yesterday, where the political parties and civil society groups began by singing and dancing to political songs outside the Manzini RHQ. The marchers would be seen moving along the stretch along the RHQ road.

A platform for delivering speeches was made for the various political parties and civil society groups, which consisted of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Swaziland, SWALIMO, CPS, Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the Swaziland Rural Women Assembly. After the speeches were delivered, PUDEMO Secretary General Wandile Dludlu read the petition, which had eight demands, to the Regional Commissioner, Schoolboy Simelane. Thereafter, the marchers proceeded to the Manzini Police Station, which is situated a few metres away from the RHQ. The marchers were seen chanting political songs. They were stationed there for about 10 minutes when they later proceeded along the Standard Bank/Nedbank Road, where some marchers were seen emptying concrete dustbins and singing political songs.

Vehicles

It should be noted that police officers were there to monitor the marchers during the course of the march. Oncoming vehicles were seen trying to navigate along the littered road next to Futi’s Chicken Cottage. The political parties and civil groups further proceeded downward towards the Nando’s direction along the Bhunu Mall road. It was when they reached the KFC road leading to the heart of the Manzini Bus Rank that some marchers began to block the road by placing stones while others littered the road with rubbish from concrete dustbins.

Meanwhile, other marchers were seen throwing stones at the Swaziland Building Society’s refurbished branch, when a vehicle belonging to the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) with officers of the law, fired gunshots towards the crowd of marchers. The marchers were seen dispersing, and the locals who had gone to town were running helter skelter. In the process, the two members of the political parties were shot.
According to SWALIMO Spokesperson Thandaza Silolo, the shot member in Hlandze was from the Manzini Region. Silolo disclosed that he was shot in the left leg. He said Hlandze was stable and was awaiting an operation at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, where he was taken to after the shooting.

“We condemn the violence by law enforcers who willy-nilly use guns to disperse marchers. My question is; what has stopped them from using teargas when dealing with a rowdy crowd?” he questioned. Silolo added that the marchers were going back home to board various public transport vehicles, and they were not disrupting anything. The spokesperson was of the view that the officers of the law should have at least escorted the marchers back to the bus rank, than to fire shots at them. He mentioned that the marchers were now injured.

Member

CPS Spokesperson Pius Vilakati could not be reached at the time of compiling this report. However, information gathered from the SWALIMO spokesperson was to the effect that the shot member of CPS was identified as Mtsetfwa. He said he was shot in the back. When he was queried on whether the behaviour of marchers in emptying dustbins and causing disruption after the petition delivery was provocation, Motsa, the PPA Chairperson, said it was not. “I think there is a way for police officers to use when dispersing a crowd besides firing shots. However, this is not shocking to us because they got an order to shoot,” she supposed.

She alleged that people were being silenced by the gun. The chairperson said this was something that was expected from the law enforcers. She declared that in their revolution, they were ready to be killed by the gun. The chairperson said she thought the law enforcers used live ammunition when shooting the marchers. However, she said this was subject to confirmation. She said the shot SWALIMO member was physically challenged and shot more than once in his leg. When drawn for comment on the number of people shot, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said there was no report of any shot persons. Vilakati was further asked about the report of the petition delivery march at the RHQ, and her response was: “They arrived, the petition was delivered.” She did not elaborate.

Ammunition

An expert, who was contacted by this publication, suggested that the type of ammunition used to shoot at the two marchers were rubber bullets.
The expert, who requested to comment on condition of anonymity, said a live bullet had a projectile at the end such that when fired, it was designed to come straight at a person. He said it could injure or kill a person. On the other hand, he said a rubber bullet was designed in such a way that it could immensely injure a shot person. He said it was most unlikely for a person to be able to walk when they had been shot with live ammunition.

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