Swazi police fired teargas and rubber bullets as they went into battle with students at two separate universities in Swaziland.
Students were boycotting classes and demonstrating in protest that the Swazi Government has not paid their meal and personal allowances and cut the number of scholarships it will give to support students.
In one incident on Monday (7 November 2011), students at the recently-created Limkokwing University reportedly held officers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security ‘hostage’. Police were called, but students blocked the gates to the campus.
In a separate incident, students at the University of Swaziland (Uniswa) forced riot police off their campus.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported, ‘During a visit to the institution about 10 armed officers were found standing guard by the gate’.
The newspaper said police fired as they tried to disperse the students.
The Times of Swaziland reported that 700 students at Limkokwing were attacked by the police.
The Times reported, ‘Empty bullet casings, empty bullet shells, spent shotgun shells and teargas canisters were found around the university premises after the students had been driven outside and police stood guard within.’
The Times said Limkokwing students had locked up the institution’s gates after finding out that officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, who were supposed to give them cheques for their allowances, had only brought payment for 20 students.
The Times quoted Mduduzi Dlamini, chair of the students ad hoc committee, saying when the police arrived they gave the students five minutes to vacate the institution – an ultimatum that was not met as the students remained in their classes.
‘The police started shooting and we got scared thus we ran away. I ran out of the gate and as I was about to reach a car that was parked outside, one policeman shot at us but missed and hit the vehicle in the process,’ said one barefooted female student who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation.
Another student told the Times, ‘The police entered the premises through the fence because the gate was locked. We were not even violent but the police told us not to come back tomorrow (Tuesday 8 November 2011). The biggest problem is that we’ve a deadline for assignments. This is no longer the university we know but we will now call it Limkokwing Police College of creative shooting technology.’
The Observer also reported that students at Uniswa forced 10 riot police off their campus. The police had entered the premises at Kwaluseni while students were holding a meeting. The students abandoned their meeting and confronted the police, who, after 10 minutes, left the campus.
Students also reportedly threw stones and bottles at police officers who were standing across the road just opposite the main gate of the institution.
The Times reported that a group of about 10 police officers, ‘armed with shields, batons and some carrying guns entered the institution on foot walking briskly in a file along the main road that leads to the administration block’.
It said the police were spotted by students ‘who then raced in full flight for a distance of over 100 metres to confront the police’.
The Times reported, ‘The students were armed with tree branches, loose chairs and stones and they outnumbered the police.’ It said the leadership of the students intervened by ordering the police to vacate the premises to control an escalating situation.
Students resolved to continue their class boycotts and protests.