A pro-democracy protest was unconstitutionally broken up by Swaziland police on Saturday.
Members of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) who tried to hold a rally were beaten up by police who said the demonstrators needed permission from the courts to hold a meeting.
The police action contravenes the Swaziland Constitution which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of speech.
According to a report in the Times of Swaziland today (2 December 2008) the protestors were at KaKhoza. SWAYOCO Secretary General Thabile Zwane said the campaign was supposed to start at 10am but to their member’s frustration by the police they ended up starting at noon.
‘It started well but it could not even last for an hour as where we had planned to assemble police were already in that area.
‘The police later asked if we had a right of being there and wanted permission and when we told them that KaKhoza residents had allowed us, they did not take that,’ she said.
She said elders of the area had allowed them to hold the campaign.
The Times reports that some of the police officers told them that they were going to get a court order banning them from holding the rally and while they were still waiting, OSSU caspirs started arriving and more officers filled the area.
Residents who had come to listen to SWAYOCO’s views on the manner the country is being governed were later forced to run.
'Everyone after seeing the police caspirs decided to run away because of previous experiences with the police,' Zwane said.
The Swazi Observer today quoted SWAYOCO President Wandile Dludlu saying that the entire KaKhoza location was turned into a war zone as police officers did everything in their power to disperse them.
‘They assaulted us and we ran in all directions. I ran towards New Village and later got a ride from journalists who were travelling to Mbabane,’ Dludlu said.
Police spokesperson Inspector Stephen Dlamini denied that the police assaulted SWAYOCO members.