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Thursday, 16 February 2017

SWAZI POLICE FIRE AT STUDENTS

Police in Swaziland fired warning gunshots as students protested about late payment of their allowances. 

It is now commonplace for Swazi police to fire at civilian protests, such as student and labour disputes.

The latest attack on Sunday (12 February 2017) happened after students at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) tried to march with a petition to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, following a meeting on the Kwaluseni campus.

Local media reported armed military police from the Operational Support Services intercepted the students who were walking down the road near the Mahhala shopping complex and fired warning shots.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday (14 February 2017), ‘about three warning shots were fired by the police as they dispersed the students’. The students were then forced to return back to the campus. 

The Times of Swaziland reported the students want to restore the 60 percent of allowances that was slashed after the implementation of a scholarship policy during the 2011/2012 academic year.

It is common in Swaziland for police to fire at civilians during disputes. On 6 February 2017, they fired live gunshots and teargas as workers at Juris Manufacturing in Nhlangano when workers were locked out in a dispute over allegations that management planned to purge the staff of ‘troublesome elements’. 

In February 2016, Swazi security forces attacked students at the UNISWA Kwaluseni campus by driving an armoured troop carrier at speed into a crowd, injuring one so badly her back was broken. Students had been protesting and boycotting classes to protest about delays in registration.

The assault was one of many violent attacks on students by police and security forces dating back a number of years.

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.

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

MORE POLICE GUNS AGAINST WORKERS
POLICE FIRE RUBBER BULLETS ON STRIKERS
POLICE FIRE SHOTS AT WORKERS’ PROTEST
KINGDOM ONE OF WORST IN WORLD FOR WORKERS
STUDENTS UNDER SIEGE BY ARMED POLICE
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2013/11/students-under-siege-by-armed-police.html

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