[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Swazi protest yesterday: 10 000 in Manzini!
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Sep 4 13:33:48 BST 2008
(And more in Mbabane today.)
Musa Nhleko, Mbongiseni Nhlek, Times of Swaziland, 4 September 2008
MANZINI – An overwhelming crowd of over 10 000 marchers took to the
streets yesterday, in protest over a number of socio-economic challenges
facing the country, bringing the city to a standstill.
With such a big turnout, it was almost impossible that the march would
be peaceful and despite every measure taken to ensure that it was, some
marchers provoked the wrath of the riot police by stoning them.
This resulted in the police responding by firing teargas canisters and
arresting two marchers for destroying property.
Some police officers were also overwhelmed by the turnout but manned
The march itself had started peacefully but it was only a matter of time
before some marchers from two progressive groups pelted the police with
stones. The workers had assembled for speeches at the Jubilee Park
during lunch time.
The group that pelted stones had caused trouble from the onset as they
would march in different routes much against the peaceful workers around
Not even Jan Sithole of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU)
or People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku
could stop the rowdy crowd of about 30 people.
Most of the rowdy people in this group were reported to be members of
Pudemo and the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) and they were joined
by women from the textile industry while toyi-toying.
It all started when the police while standing between Nedbank and
Swazibank were confronted by the rowdy marchers by throwing stones.
The riot officers were in a van.
One of the officers responded by firing teargas canisters towards the
rowdy group, which had then joined the marchers who were seated and
listening to speeches at the Jubilee Park.
Workers and bystanders were forced to take cover from the teargas as the
police also came towards them.
The situation got worse when a group of police officers who were
standing opposite the Jubilee Park seemingly offended the workers with
The rowdy group pelted the officers with stones and luckily no one was hurt.
A white Audi had one of its windows smashed after they missed the police
After the situation was brought to normal and the workers dispersed, the
police spotted two of the suspects who vandalised property and they were
all taken from two kombis on their way back home.
They were both charged with causing malicious damage to property and
this was confirmed by police Public Relations Officer Superintendent
Masuku appealed to the organisers to ensure that marches are peaceful as
when there are elements of breach of peace, the law will be effected by
He noted that provocation of the police by marchers throwing stones was
not a good thing during the marches.
While the media estimated the marchers to be over 10 000, the labour
movement claimed that the marchers were up to 15 000.
This was different from last year as figures were estimated to be 3 000.
10 000 marchers shock police
MANZINI – Police randomly interviewed yesterday said they were shocked
at the turnout of the marchers.
The police, when speaking to the Times, said it was good that only a
small number of marchers were violent, while the multitudes were
marching peacefully. "If you see these marchers, we are nothing compared
to them, if they could all turn violent we would have to call for
back-up," said some of the officers.
When asked about the numbers as compared to last year, those who were
randomly interviewed, said they were shocked with the numbers and felt
the people were well over 10 000.
One officer even suggested that soldiers would have to be called to help
them just in case the situation got out of control. However, other
officers rebuked him said he must go join the army if he thought they
could not contain the march.
Marchers clash with police
Swazi Observer, 4 September 2008
JUST when everyone, including the police, thought the over 10 000
protesters' march in Manzini yesterday was peaceful, police clashed with
a handful of demonstrators minutes after lunch.
It all started when a group of about 20 demonstrators broke away from
the main group and started throwing missiles at the police. They also
insulted and mocked the police officers.
What further provoked the brief confrontation was when the marchers
dragged a full waste bin into the road on Nkoseluhlaza Street.
The main group of marchers was already seated at the Jubilee Park where
they were to be addressed on the next move, having covered the first
round of the march set to end at 3:00pm.
A vehicle carrying the riot squad, under the instruction of Manzini
Station Commander Richard Mngometulu, chased after members of the
deviant group. The police also fired teargas into the air sending
marchers running for cover.
During an earlier episode the same group attempted to disturb the peace
at the bus rank only to find that the police were in full alert and
defused their tricks.
No injuries were reported except for the brief encounter.
Swaziland Federation of Trade Union (SFTU) Secretary General Jan Sithole
said though he was not sure what sparked the violence, he was informed
that some form of intimidation was experienced.
He was reluctant to say whether the intimidation was by the police or
“Though I have not been fully briefed about the main cause, it is wise
for the police to bear in mind that the riot squads are not supposed to
be near demonstrators because they are an intimidation. So, chances are,
the people were intimidated by their presence and decided to be
violent,” said Sithole.
Meanwhile, the march will today continue in Mbabane where Sithole said
they were expecting more people.
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