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MANZINI – There was drama yesterday at the Lutheran Church in Manzini when police blocked members of the local progressive formations and other members of the public from attending a memorial service in honour of the late former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The service had been organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) in conjunction with the Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders.
What was supposed to be a peaceful memorial service, scheduled to start at 2pm inside the church situated next to the old Trade Fair eventually turned out to be a short service held outside the church premises under the scorching sun.

At 2pm, the venue was already littered with both uniformed and plain-clothed police officers who prevented anyone from entering the church premises.
Some of the officers were armed with rifles while others only had batons.


First to be blocked from entering the premises was prominent political activist Mphandlana Shongwe, who was told in no uncertain terms that he was not allowed into the venue.
A frustrated Shongwe was found seated a few metres away from the gate clad in a white round-neck T-shirt bearing the number 46664, which was Nelson Mandela’s prison number at Robben Island.
At around 2:10pm, more people started making their way into the venue but were also blocked by the police. Two women wearing black clothes and carrying Bibles were visibly taken aback when they were turned back.

“Kute lisontfo, buyelani emakhaya,” the police told them.
Soon thereafter, Co-ordinator of the SUDF Wandile Dludlu arrived in the company of Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Vincent Ncongwane, human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and others.

They were stopped dead in their tracks as they attempted making their way into the church.
Uncompromising police officers who were manning the gate told them in their faces that they were not allowed to enter the premises.


By this time, a large crowd was beginning to gather at the gate while dwellers in neighbouring buildings stood in their verandas and watched from a distance.
There was commotion as the progressives argued with the police, demanding to be allowed in.
Reverend Hanson Ngwenya, together with Mandla Mdladla were the most vocal as they constantly argued with the police at the gate, calling them an embarrassment to everything that the late Nelson Mandela stood for.

“What you are doing is a shame. It’s a shame to Madiba and everything that he stood for. The whole world is mourning this great man that has departed but you are denying us a chance to peacefully mourn him inside the church. Why are you refusing us a chance to pray?” asked Mdladla.
PUDEMO President Mario Masuku also arrived a few minutes later and also tried to negotiate with the police to no avail.

Dludlu then called the mourners to order and informed them that the service would continue outside.
“As you can see comrades and brethren, we are being denied a chance to get inside the church and mourn the death of an icon, we will go ahead with the service from outside,” he announced while reading the full programme.
As the service continued outside the gate under the watchful eye of the police, Counsellor from the South African High Commission, Annell Van Zyl arrived chauffeured in a grey BMW.

She had come to represent the High Commissioner Happy Mahlangu, who had been invited as a guest of honour to the event. Many thought with her arrival, the police would budge and allow proceedings to be held inside the church.
It was not to be.


The police stood their ground and did not allow anyone inside. Dludlu and Shongwe welcomed the high commissioner’s representative and informed her that police were preventing them from honouring Mandela inside the church.
Van Zyl did not bother negotiating with the police but simply stood by and also followed proceedings from outside.
The service lasted for almost two hours, with speakers from various groups and organisations taking turns speaking about Mandela and blasting the country’s system of governance.


... Mario disturbed  while making speech

MANZINI – While PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was making his speech saying South Africa will never liberate us, a certain man interjected on top of his voice, before Masuku could finish, saying “Ya, abafuni” (yes, they do not want).

Masuku continued and said “We Swazis can only liberate ourselves”.
But Musa Mdladla, who said he was a staunch ANC member, would interject each time Masuku wanted to finish his statement.
“Abafuni!”, he would shout disturbing Masuku.

Fellow ‘comrades’ tried to reason with him but he would hear none of it.


“Ya, abafuni!” he said as others tried hard to suppress laughter.
“Bayasitsengisa!”, he further screamed meaning the ANC was a sellout in the struggle by the people of Swaziland.
It took the intervention of Reverend Hanson Ngwenya, who calmly reasoned with Mdladla who wore a very serious face maintaining that the ANC was refusing to assist the Swazi people with democratising the country.

Masuku could not ignore Mdladla anymore and addressed him saying: “Comrade, listen, it is the people of Swaziland who will liberate themselves.”
Mdladla later reiterated his stance saying the ANC was selling out the struggle of the people of Swaziland.
“The ANC is a sellout to the people of this country. We supported them when the organisation was being formed.


“We even gave them money to establish a newspaper called ‘Abantu Bantu’. They became an established political party,” he claimed  during a separate interview.
“But now that they are free, they act as if Swaziland had nothing to do with the ANC,” he complained.
South African High Commissioner representative Ms Annell Van Zyl when sought for comment said: “As far as I know they have a lot of solidarity in South Africa from unions such as COSATU, the ANC Youth League and more than that I can’t say anything.”


Businesspeople, residents affected

MANZINI – Businesspeople and nearby residents felt the wrath of the uncompromising police as movement near the Lutheran church was strictly restricted.
Residents who had gone to do some shopping were stopped as they tried to make their way home past the church via the Mzimnene River.
The police would hear none of that as they told residents, many who appeared to be shocked, to sink into the forest if they wanted to make their way across.
Negotiations by one young woman who was carrying plastic bags full of groceries fell on deaf ears as she ran from one senior police officer to another trying to reason with them.
Immediately after that a fuming businessman came by to ascertain why his employees were barred from entering the premises which also doubles as a business centre.
“What is wrong with you police officers?” he wondered. “Why should my business and clients suffer without any reason? Is it necessary that I should drive all the kilometers for such cheap policing tactics?” wondered the businesses whose name could not be ascertained as he later drove away in his car cursing the men in blue.


Comments (2 posted):

kayifani on 14/12/2013 05:00:08
l don't see any reason why the people were denied the chance to have the memorial service in honour of the late TATA MADIBA.phoke nasashilo zihlathi naye asa tsetse l order kumngani wakhe kute lobekungalunga.
Mhlalingaphambili on 14/12/2013 08:40:27
these cps sometimes get hard for nothing at all, why would you stall people from their participation in a memorial service. why didnt they stoped others nakuyiwe leWorship Centre. PLEASE COPS mangabe sifuna kwenta lokungekho emtsetfeni then silungiseni but mangabe senta losemtsetfeni, there is no need kutsi nisivimbele.

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