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MBABANE – The viewing of a documentary which depicts the country’s authorities in a negative manner was stopped by police last week.
Police officers are said to have stormed the studio and stopped the screening of the documentary titled ‘The King and the People’. They are also alleged to have detained the owner of the studio in Manzini.

The documentary which was made by Simon Bright was screened by members the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) on November 15 at a studio situated at the Christian Media Centre. According to Mphandlana Shongwe who was present during the screening, the police came just when the documentary had played for a few minutes. He said they joined them in watching the documentary, and after a while demanded that they stop showing it. He said the police said they were not supposed to be watching the documentary.

He also alleged that a skirmish ensued during the night, and police allegedly threatened them. Shongwe alleged that the police left the building with the owner of the studio and further confiscated his permit. Other sources alleged that the police detained the owner of the studio for close to three hours for questioning.
The source said they just rented the studio for the screening of the documentary.

“I have met with one of the police officers who were present and he said they were still investigating. What happened was wrong as our right to freedom of assembly was infringed upon,” the source said.
Shongwe said the police did not confiscate the soft copy of the documentary as it was still with them. He said this was surprising as one would have expected that if the documentary was illegal, police would have taken it.

He said the screening was attended by about 50 people, who included progressives, University of Swaziland students and members of the public. He said they had told people about the screening through their networks. Shongwe said he did not understand why they did not arrest them if they broke any law, instead of dispersing them. SUDF’s Wandile Dludlu said he was not present during the skirmish, but had been informed that police had disturbed the documentary screening.

He condemned the police action and said if the people had done anything wrong, they should have been arrested. “This is undermining the image of the country, because the movie does not have any profanities, it just talks about the situation in the country, and the future,” Dludlu said. The documentary was premiered on September 16 at the Framestore Cinema on Wells Street in London and will be shown at the Afrika Eye film festival in Bristol this year.
The documentary mentions that the country is the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS scourge and also alleges that many Swazis live on food aid. It also talks about the high number of orphans and vulnerable children in the country.

It features clips from strikes, including the ‘Waya Waya’ which teachers engaged in earlier this year. It also features the speech made by the King during his coronation as well as cultural events such as the Umhlanga ceremony. It features locals like Sibongile Mazibuko, Lomcebo Dlamini and Dludlu.
The documentary also makes mention of His Majesty the King’s alleged net worth.

The documentary has attracted international media and articles about it have been featured on different newspapers, including Church Times, a United Kingdom publication.
A correspondent for BBC in South Africa also called to enquire about police invading the studio where the documentary was being screened. Several blogs have made mention of the documentary as well.


Yes, we did visit the studio - cops


MBABANE – Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Wendy Hleta confirmed that police went to the studio on the said date.

Hleta said they had gone there following reports that there were people who were protesting in the studio.
Police are alleged to have stormed the studio situated at the Christian Media Centre on November 15.

The studio had been rented out by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), and about 50 people were occupying it, viewing a newly-released documentary about the country.
“We were told that people were ‘toyi toying’ and we went to investigate,” she said.
Hleta said she did not know whether the owner of the studio was detained, but she only knew that the police had gone to find out what was causing the protest in the studio.

Comments (1 posted):

annoymous on 29/11/2013 14:31:14
let me not cooment coz they wl sensor me...

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