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Monday 17 May 2010


News about the police destruction of the funeral of Swaziland democracy activist Siho Jele is coming out thick and fast. The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, published the following reports today (17 May 2010).

Police raided a vigil at 4am yesterday (16 May 2010) that was being held for Jele and tore up pictures of the deceased man that mourners had put up in his honour. Police interrupted speeches and ordered that materials with slogans of the banned entities the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and its youth wing SWAYOCO be collected. About 30 police officers surrounded the coffin and despite an assurance from the political activists that the funeral would proceed peacefully the police refused to leave, so Jele’s family decided to postpone the funeral. A new time for the funeral will be announced in due course. LINK

The police later said that had not intended to ‘harass or intimidate the mourners’. They were at the funeral ‘to maintain law and order and to ensure that safety of law abiding citizens was guaranteed’. A police spokesman said mourners were committing offences under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The spokesman said nobody was arrested. LINK

Some mourners had to run to the nearest bushes after police attempted to confront them for wearing t-shirts with colours and political slogans. Some of the mourners were defiant and vowed that they will continue wearing t-shirts with the slogans of the banned entities. LINK

The action prompted the Times to call the police an ‘enemy of the state’ in an editorial comment. ‘Perhaps the time has come for us to ask the question if the police in this country are the enemy of the state; for we are struggling to make sense of either their decisions or their rationale. We are also appalled at the manner with which they go around flouting the constitution by denying the people of this country their God-given right of assembly and to associate, in their sorry excuses to maintain law and order. It is clear now that the cops only know how to fuel mayhem and disorder,’ it said. LINK

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