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Friday, 2 December 2016

SWAZI STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST STUDENTS

The recent passing of the 26th anniversary of Black Wednesday when troops invaded a campus of the University of Swaziland reminds us that little has changed in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Police, troops and security forces continue to take the attitude of ‘attack first, ask questions later’ when dealing with student grievances.

As recently as October 2016, police fired gunshots at protesting students at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology at Sidwashini. At least four students had ‘serious injuries’, according to the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper.

Students had been protesting about the poor quality of teaching at the university and inferior facilities.

The Times reported, ‘According to eyewitnesses, about 200 students screamed and ran helter-skelter after police from the Operational Support Service Unit (OSSU) fired at least six shots in attempt to disperse the protesting students who were barred from coming within 100 metres of the university gate by the High Court.’

In February 2016 at the University of Swaziland Kwaluseni campus Swazi security forces attacked students by driving an armoured troop carrier at speed into a crowd, injuring one so badly her back was broken. 

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported, ‘a Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) Operational Services Unit (OSSU) casspir drove at high speed into a group of about 2,000 students, who, when they realised that the vehicle was not stopping, ran in all directions.’

Students at the university had been protesting and boycotting classes to protest about delays in registration. 

Police and security forces in Swaziland routinely violently attack students when they engage in protest.

In November 2013, police raided dormitories and dragged students from their rooms. Later they beat up the students at local police stations. Students had wanted the start of examinations postponed. Armed police stood guard outside examination halls as the UNISWA Administration attempted to hold the exams.

A report published today in UNISWA Today, a student on-line newspaper site, said, ‘Three hours from now students were supposed to sit for their first examination paper. As this report is written, the S-block has become a jail since students can’t leave the residence. Anyone who is leaving his dormitory is being captured. Police have even started raiding the dormitories, the intention is unknown.’

In a separate report UNISWA Today said a university warden at the UNISWA Luyengo Campus allowed officers of the Swaziland state security force OSSU to raid all dormitory rooms and to sjambock ‘all students who are found having squatted in other’s rooms’.

Student Representative Council (SRC) Vice President Anthony Mthembu, writing on UNISWA Today said, ‘The operation started at 23.30hrs and ended at about 3am. He also ordered that all SRC members be arrested as they are “ring leaders”. To ensure that he gave them our room numbers and a master key.

‘They arrived at my room at around 01.30 and tried opening my door but couldn’t since I had inserted my key inside and fully twisted it. They threatened to camp outside my room and asked me where Max [Maxwell Dlamini, SRC President] is.


‘I resisted to which they threw teargas in my room, that I resisted too, but they tried to break in and my roommate opened. The squabble lasted for about 45 minutes. Upon opening they clapped me and alleged that there are petrol bombs in my room.

‘They searched all my suitcases, CPU and monitor cartons, cabinets, washing basket and anything you can think of. They even came to an extent of mistaking a wireless mouse for a “bomb.”’


Students were then taken to police stations for questioning.

In a separate case in August 2012, two students were shot in the head at close range with rubber bullets, during a dispute about the number of scholarships awarded by the government. Reports from the Centre for Human Rights and Development, Swaziland, said several other students were injured by police batons and kicks.

In February 2012, police fired teargas at students from Swaziland College of Technology (SCOT) who boycotted classes after the Swazi Government did not pay them their allowances.

In November 2011, armed police attacked students at the recently-opened private Limkokwing University. The Swazi Observer said Limkokwing students reported that police ‘attacked them unprovoked as they were not armed’.

The newspaper added, ‘During a visit to the institution about 10 armed officers were found standing guard by the gate’. The Observer said police fired as they tried to disperse the students. 

In January 2010, Swaziland Police reportedly fired bullets at protesting university students, injuring two of them. They denied it and said they ‘only’ fired teargas. Students from UNISWA had attempted to march through the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane, to call for an increase in their allowances.

See also

STUDENTS UNDER SIEGE BY ARMED POLICE
POLICE FLEE ROOMS AS POLICE ATTACK
BOYCOTTING STUDENTS CLOSE UNIVERSITY
POLICE SHOOT TWO STUDENTS IN HEAD
ARMED POLICE STOP STUDENTS PROTEST
SWAZILAND STUDENT UNREST SPREADS
STUDENTS UNDER FIRE FROM POLICE
SWAZI STUDENTS BEATEN TO PULP
SWAZILAND POLICE ‘SHOOT STUDENTS’

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