7 COPS INJURED IN UBOMBO PROTESTS
BIG BEND – The ongoing demonstrations at Ubombo Sugar Limited took another ugly turn as employees clashed with police officers.
Seven police officers were injured and subsequently rushed to hospital following the clash between the demonstrating employees and the officers.
The officers reportedly sustained head and body injuries after allegedly being stoned by the demonstrators. Over 2 000 Ubombo Sugar Limited workers were demonstrating outside the company administration offices, demanding salary increments.
The three-week old strike turned violent when the demonstrating workers became rowdy, prompting the police to fire tear gas and further sprayed them with water, in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The workers retaliated by throwing stones and makeshift missiles towards the police, hence the scuffle.
Big Bend Station Commander Assistant Superintendent Aaron Themba Zwane confirmed that seven police officers were injured during the altercation.
“They were rushed to Ubombo Sugar Clinic for treatment, but most of them have been discharged as we speak,” Zwane said in an interview moments after the scuffle.
He condemned the violence, blaming the workers for provoking the police.
“Police were guarding the administration offices as always when the workers became rowdy. They cut trees and further threw stones towards the administration offices and we tried to stop them. They started the violence and we were only trying to calm the situation,” he continued.
Secretary General of the Swaziland Agricultural Plantations and Allied Workers Union (SAPAWU) Archie Sayed blamed the police for the violence.
He said if the police had not fired tear gas towards the demonstrating workers, the situation could have remained calm.
“It seems as if the police were itching to attack the workers, because I see no reason why they fired the tear gas. We have been demonstrating peacefully for the past three weeks and there had been no violence,” said Sayed.
Meanwhile, during the scuffle, quite a number of windows of the building which houses the company’s administration offices were smashed.
Asked to state the total damage suffered by the company, Human Resources Manager at Ubombo Sugar Jobe Mashwama said it would be difficult to quantify the damage suffered since a proper evaluation had not been undertaken yet.
Mashwama further revealed that none of the company employees working in the administration offices were injured during the scuffle.