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POLICE BIGGEST SECURITY THREAT - SWATCAWU

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MANZINI – The biggest security threat to the country is the police, says the Swaziland Transport Communication and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU).

Secretary General (SG) of SWATCAWU Sticks Nkambule, said this when public transport workers delivered a petition to the Manzini Police Regional Headquarters (RHQ), where they raised concerns over police brutality. Nkambule said there had been means seeking to stop the public transport workers from delivering the petition. He said they had vowed that would not happen, as they were seeking to visit the Manzini Police RHQ. He said the issue of national security that was raised by the police in their meeting with the Municipal Council of Manzini and SWATCAWU did not hold water, as there were no workers who had killed a person when they were on the streets.

Challenging

He said instead of challenging the refusal by the municipality for them to picket and march on the streets, they had decided to gather at the RHQ and state their grievances. “We want the agents of the State to know that they are there to serve the citizenry,” Nkambule said. He said public transport workers were concerned about the police brutality, as there were seven instances, dating back to May 2021, wherein police brutality was exhibited. He said they were demanding a full account of what the police administration had done on these matters.
The first incident, he said, involved their member Sipho Shiba, who in May 2021, was supposedly assaulted by the police. Nkambule said insults and derogatory names were hurled at Shiba.

Protest

Also, the SG said on October 20, 2021, police officers fired tear gas canisters in a bus loaded with workers travelling to a lawful protest action in Mbabane. The third incident, he said, was on October 20, 2021, wherein officers brutalised and shot transport workers in Manzini along Nkoseluhlaza Street, on their way to a protest march in Mbabane. Another incident he cited was said to have occurred on October 13, 2021, wherein a police officer fired a gun and killed Sabelo Dlamini at Malkerns. The SG said it was nearly a year since the incident happened and they were waiting for accountability on it. There was another incident of police brutality, according to Nkambule, on May 13, 2022, where police officers purportedly used unwarranted force and ‘disorder’ which disturbed and endangered their operations. This, he said, was because the law enforcers fired tear gas and shot protesters during a march organised by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).

“We are appalled by the continuing disgraceful, violent and unrestrained conduct of the police, as it poses a danger and risk to national security and social cohesion.” Nkambule informed the police that in the past, they had noted that the law enforcers had not bothered to respond and explain their conduct as listed in the aforementiond cases. Therefore, he said, they would return to the Manzini Police RHQ on June 29, 2022, for responses. The Regional Staff Officer, Schoolboy Simelane, received the petition and said he would forward it to the relevant office. However, his response did not appease the over 50 public transport workers. This was due to the fact that the hierarchy of police officers had been informed by a number of speakers that SNUS President, Colani Maseko, was abducted at the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) by law enforcers.

The speakers had promised the senior police officers that they would camp at the Manzini Police RHQ if they did not see Maseko or were informed of where he was taken. In response to the follow-up question, which sought to establish the whereabouts of Maseko, Simelane said he was not aware of anything as he had been with the group for the better part of the day. This was at about 1:30pm, following that the petition had been scheduled to be delivered not later than 2pm.

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