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Friday, 15 April 2011

WHY WON’T POLICE NAME SUSPECTS?

Swaziland’s secretive police are refusing to reveal the names of the three people they arrested on ‘terror’ charges.


And, they won’t give details of what is it they are supposed to have done.


That didn’t stop Isaac Magagula, Swazi Commissioner of Police, holding a press conference yesterday (14 April 2011) to boast of his force’s success.


But, why won’t he give the names? What are the police trying to hide?


Magagula did say the three were arrested following ‘information in our possession that the event [the protests] would be hijacked by elements with ulterior motives for perpetrating subversive activities’.


He went on, ‘True to our words, there are suspects who have been arrested in connection with explosives and incendiary materials that were intended to be used in the commission of acts of terror and sabotage during the course of the protest action.’


I smell a rat. The arrest took place after armed police raided the offices of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) on Wednesday (13 April 2011). Police were hell-bent on giving the teachers a beating and padlocked them in their offices.


In a move unprecedented in the history of Swaziland, the word got out to alert the international community that a police outrage was about to take place. Within minutes, the alarm was raised around the world and protests were immediately made to international embassies, human rights groups and the media.


The whole world was watching. Gone are the days when the Swazi police could pick up a ‘suspect’ and simply make them disappear. The strong spotlight of the world now shines, even on Manzini.


The police were forced to justify their outrageous actions. And then what happened? They found three anonymous ‘terror’ suspects’.


Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, isn’t fooled. He knows what’s going on. It’s a cover-up for the heavy-handed police raid on the SNAT offices. He reckons the ‘suspects’ won’t be convicted at court.


He has history on his side. We all remember how the Swazi state locked Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement, up on remand for nearly a year on terrorism and sedition charges.


Masuku eventually made it to court in 2008 for a trial that was expected to last several days.


But, it wasn’t to be: the judges laughed the case out of court after a couple of hours. No case to answer.


It looks like we could have another Masuku on our hands.


So Magagula, what about these three ‘terrorists’: tell the people what you really have on them.


If you want us to believe a word you say: put up or shut up.


- Richard Rooney

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