Search This Blog

Loading...

For more coverage follow us also on Twitter and Facebook


Saturday, 30 June 2012

DENMARK WANTS TOUGH MEASURES

stiffkitten blog


June 29, 2012

Danish Development Minister worried about Swaziland

 “I fully share your concern about the human rights situation in Swaziland,” Danish Minister for Development, Christian Friis Bach replied last Thursday to a letter from Danish NGO Africa Contact’s chairperson, Signe Borker Bjerre that conveyed the message of the Swazi democratic movement for tougher measures against the Swazi regime.

Friis Bach also maintained that Denmark is acting on this concern. “Even though Denmark is not officially represented in Swaziland, we make sure that our voice is heard in the European Union, through which we pursue an active foreign policy in relation to Swaziland.”
According to Friis Bach, the European Union is considering taking action against Swaziland for its many recent human rights violations.

“During a conversation with European Union Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, on May 28, I raised the issue of the worrying human rights situation in Swaziland. The Commissioner shared my concern and said that he was considering what action the EU should take.”

Friis Bach even reflected on whether or not the European Union should suspend development aid to Swaziland. “Your call for the suspension of European Union development aid to Swaziland needs to be considered carefully. On the one hand we want to pressurize the Swazi government, but on the other hand we wish to be able to help secure the basic rights of the rural population and support initiatives that promote good governance.”

‘HELP US END SWAZI ABSOLUTE MONARCHY’


stiffkitten blog  

June 29, 2012


Help us end Africa’s last absolute monarchy, banned political movement tells Danish MP’s

 “The current situation in Swaziland now is that over the past 12-15 years, it has become worse than under colonialism. We have for a long time being fighting a very lone struggle as the international media have ignored our struggle and reported only stories about the king or about what a beautiful country Swaziland is,” Skhumbuzo Phakathi told Danish MP’s last week [20. June].

“With more support for our cause, nationally and internationally, we will be able to put pressure on the Swazi regime. But we need outside help as I am yet to see a struggle won only by the people and not with help from outside.”

Skhumbuzo Phakathi is the Secretary General of the largest illegal party in Swaziland, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and was speaking during two meetings with representatives of two Danish parties, the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Democrats.
One of the representatives, foreign policy spokesman and MP Christian Juhl from the Red Green Alliance, told Africa Contact that he believed that “meeting Skhumbuzo was important, and it is also important that Denmark support Pudemo and democratisation initiatives in Swaziland.”

Phakathi was in Denmark as part of a tour of the Nordic countries, amongst other things to try and gain support for PUDEMO’s enduring attempts to bring democracy and social and economic reform to Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy bordering South Africa where the majority of the population survive on less than a dollar a day while the royal family live in luxury, where all political parties are illegal and where PUDEMO and others who call for democratic reform are branded terrorists, detained and brutalised.

“We are not demanding mountains,” Phakathi told the Danish politicians. “We are saying that the king must unban parties, that the media must be released, that the state must stop brutalising people, that the monarchy must not be an executive monarchy as it is now.”

And the situation is becoming increasingly desperate and explosive, he insisted. “Many people die of hunger in Swaziland. More than 250.000 live on food aid out of a population of 1.2 million. The educational and health systems have collapsed. And as a result of the lawlessness, police just kill and detain pro-democracy activists. People are getting restless and we don’t know for how long we are able to contain their anger.”

Even though the Swazi regime has no respect for human rights or the rule of law, the international community has chosen to remain silent about its many transgressions against its own population even though they have spoken out against the lack of democracy and human rights in other countries, said Skhumbuzo Phakathi.

The much-publicised democratic irregularities in Zimbabwe are a point in case, he says. “Yes people in Zimbabwe are suffering, but they at least have one thing that we don’t have in Swaziland – basic democratic structures.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

GOVT WANTS STRIKE LEADERS JAILED


The Swaziland Government has applied to a court to have leaders of the present teachers’ strike jailed for 30 days.

It says the entire executive of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers’ (SNAT) are in contempt of a court order banning the on-going strike which has entered day five. Teachers want a 4.5 percent pay increase.

The case at the Industrial Court was opened yesterday (27 June 2012) and adjourned. 

Meanwhile, the strike continues. The Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union (STAWU) said its members would support the teachers and there would be no public transport running throughout the kingdom. 

The Swazi Government, handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, called the striking teachers ‘criminals’.

Percy Simelane, the government’s official spokesperson, said, ‘Legally, we do not have a protest action or strike, but a spate of lawlessness and vandalism by delinquents whom we have reliably learnt are members of SNAT,’ he told local media. 


See also

POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS AT pupils

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS AT PUPILS


Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at school pupils as the teachers’ strike in Swaziland entered day three.

Armed officers were deployed in schools across the kingdom to stop striking teachers from entering premises to encourage their non-striking colleagues to join the action.

Reports from the ground in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, were that police used teargas as a first resort and in some cases fired rubber bullets when this did not deter strikers.

Earlier, Minister of Education Wilson Ntshangase had announced that police would arrest striking teachers because the strike had been declared illegal. Teachers are seeking a 4.5 percent salary increase.

Yesterday (26 June 2012), in Pigg’s Peak, teachers and school students were confronted by police. Police spokesperson, Superintendent Wendy Hleta, said police fired weapons after teachers failed to disrupt classes at Mhlatane High School.

Police and correctional services officers were called to stop teachers chanting political slogans.

While the police were preventing the teachers from proceeding to Mhlatane High School, some pupils from Peak Central High School arrived, carrying sticks and stones. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the pupils to stop them entering Mhlatane.

Some teachers and pupils were injured. At least two teachers were admitted to Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital, according to local media reports.

Police also fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers who were trying to enter Ezulwini Community Secondary School. The police later told the Times of Swaziland newspaper, they only fired stun grenades. 

In Siteki, riot police blocked roads to prevent teachers from marching to the town centre.

At Mbekelweni Lutheran High School, armed police were called to remove striking teachers who had entered the school.

Talks between the teachers union SNAT and the Swazi Government to end the strike reportedly broke down last night without agreement.

See also

STRIKING TEACHERS WILL BE ARRESTED

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

STRIKING TEACHERS WILL BE ARRESTED


Swaziland’s Minister of Education said teachers who go on strike in the kingdom today (26 June 2012) will be arrested by police.

Wilson Ntshangase said the strike over a pay claim had been declared illegal and striking teachers were therefore breaking the law.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Ntshangase told the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, there was a court order making the strike illegal and teachers engaging in the strike were breaking the law. He said it was the police’s duty to bring law-breakers to book and police would be deployed at all schools during the strike. 

He told the newspaper those found breaking the court order by striking would definitely be arrested.

 ‘We cannot stand aside and watch; hence will be deploying police to the schools. It is their job to enforce court orders in the country and they will surely arrest those teachers going against this,’ he said.

Ntshangase said that they could not arrest the teachers’ leadership as they needed evidence before doing that.

Monday, 25 June 2012

CHURCHES WANT INQUIRY INTO KILLINGS


Churches in Swaziland want an independent inquiry into the police killing of the alleged rapist Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina. 

They also want the deaths of two other people, possibly at the hands of the police, to be investigated.

The Council of Swaziland Churches wants the independent inquiry to be wide ranging and involve police, politicians, the church and civil society.

The call was sparked by the police killing of Masina while he was allegedly resisting arrest. Police say they shot him in the thigh and Masina died of his injuries. Later a Swazi newspaper said its reporter had seen Masina’s body and it had a bullet wound to the head. 

The other two cases the Swaziland Churches wants investigated involve Sihle Bhembe and Vamile Gumbi. Bhembe died in a police station cell after police say he repeatedly hit his own head against a wall. Gumbi died after being interrogated at a police station. All deaths occurred over a space of three weeks.

In a statement, the council said it was concerned that the three deaths happened in the custody of the police, or just after they had been taken in for questioning, over the course of three subsequent weeks and it is imperative to ascertain the circumstances leading to the deaths. 

The council also called upon churches to resolutely defend the rights of defenceless and marginalised people in Swaziland.

It also wants the Swazi Government to introduce police training so officers can conduct their duties to international standards and with regard to the human rights of Swazi people.

See also

POLICE ‘SHOT ACCUSED RAPIST IN HEAD’

POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’

NEW DOUBTS OVER POLICE KILLING

Saturday, 23 June 2012

POLICE ‘SHOT ACCUSED RAPIST IN HEAD’


The alleged rapist Swaziland Police said died after they shot him in the thigh while he was trying to flee had a bullet wound in the head, a local paper reported.

The Times of Swaziland said its reporter had inspected the corpse of Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina and found a bullet wound ‘on the left side of the forehead, just at the top of the left ear’. 

The Swazi police have publicly given at least two versions of Masina’s injury. They originally said Masina had been shot once in the thigh and died of his injuries. Later they changed their story and said he had also been shot below the knee.

Now the Times, Swaziland’s only independent daily newspaper, says Masina’s body had six bullet wounds, ‘one in the head, one in the lower back and four on three of his body limbs’.

A Times’ reporter accompanied Masina’s family during an inspection of the corpse at the Good Shepherd Hospital mortuary.

Police said they would not comment on the condition of the body until their pathologist had made a formal report on a post mortem.

The Times reported, ‘Scarface died on Thursday two weeks ago after seven months of failure to apprehend him for a series of alleged rape cases that happened between November 2011 and February this year.

‘According to the police, Masina was caught during a major raid by the police at a makeshift home he had built next to Mpaka. The Masina family have said the police’s refusal to let the family check his whole body before the pathologist tampered with it was evidence that they knew there was more than what met the eye.’

See also

POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’

NEW DOUBTS OVER POLICE KILLING

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

NEW DOUBTS OVER POLICE KILLING


The alleged serial rapist shot ‘in cold blood’ by Swaziland police had four bullets in his body, despite police claims he was only shot once in the thigh.

Members of the family of Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina, who was killed by police last week after they cornered him following months of pursuit, say they saw Masina’s body prior to a post mortem yesterday (19 June 2012) and it had four bullet wounds. ‘One is on the left foot, another on the arm just next to the hand and two on the right thigh just above the knee,’ the deceased’s relative Solomon Masina told local media.

Police originally said Masina had been shot once in the thigh and died of his injuries. Later they changed their story and said he had also been shot below the knee.

Solomon Masina said police refused to allow him to inspect the back of the body before the post mortem.

He told the Times of Swaziland he wanted to look at the back of the body because he believed Masina had been also shot in the back. 

Swazi Police said its own pathologist would determine how many times Masina had been shot. He would report his findings in due course.

Earlier this week the Swaziland Solidarity Network reported that Masina had been shot in cold blood by police.

Masina is alleged to have raped at least 13 women and children over the past year.

See also

POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

POLICE KILL SUSPECT ‘IN COLD BLOOD’


Swazi police have been accused of killing a serial rapist suspect in cold blood.

The controversy surrounds the death of Bhekinkhosi Masina, who has been dubbed “Scarface” by police and media in Swaziland. He allegedlyraped more than 13 women and children women during the past year. 

Last week police cornered Masina and shot him in the thigh and he died of his injuries. Police say he was trying to escape; they used minimal force and did not want to kill him. 

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement. ‘This is an outrageous lie.’

It added, ‘What happened the day Masina died is that they encircled his hideout so that he would not be able to flee. When he found out that he had been cornered, he might have attempted to flee, only to find himself face to face with more police officers.’

Masina’s family told media in Swaziland that they were suspicious of the police’s explanation because they had not been allowed to view his whole body. When they went to identify him, they were only allowed to see his face.   

SSN said, ‘What we can vouch for is that all the people who have come forth with information have confirmed that Masina’s body has bullet wounds on his back. This confirms our suspicions and his grandmother’s worries, and explains why his family was not allowed to view his whole body.

‘His aunt, Jabhile Masina, could not understand why Bhekinkhosi had dirt in his mouth when she saw his body in the morgue yet police claim he was apprehended alive. No matter how much pain he was in, there is no way he could have allowed that dirt to remain in his mouth because frankly it caused him discomfort. This only points to one possibility; Masina was dragged from the floor when it was clear that he was dead, which means that police had no intention of taking him alive. Only a dead body would not bother to spit out dirt from its mouth.’

This killing is not an isolated incident in Swaziland, where police have been involved in a number of controversial shootings, leading to suspicions that they have a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.

In May 2011 it was reported police shot dead a man who was tending his dagga field and then planted a bullet in his underwear.

In October 2010, a suspect was shot six times even though he was handcuffed. Police said he was trying to escape.

In March 2010, police shot a man in cold blood who was trying to surrender to them.

In January 2010, Swazi policeman shot dead a man and critically wounded another when they shot at a car that failed to stop when they instructed.

Also in January 2010, police gunned down three men in cold blood. A man police claimed was shot while running away from them was later found to have bullet wounds in the front of his body.

Swazi police have been criticised for having a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. They have also been involved in a number of heavy-handed attacks on members of the public, including shooting a nine-year-old girl during a teachers’ strike, and shooting near school children.

See also

SWAZI POLICE AND DEADLY FORCE