19 September 2011
Police kill protesters in Swaziland
“Two bus operators have died today [19. September 2011] after having been shot by police in Swaziland,” Morten Nielsen from Danish NGO Africa Contact reports from the small kingdom.
The shootings come in the wake of widespread police violence throughout the country during recent weeks, as well as in April, where thousands of Swazis marched for democracy and socio-economic justice.
“The bus operators in Manzini were protesting the US$1000 fine of a colleague for driving with too many passengers on his bus. There has been street fighting with the police all day and the streets are filled with tear gas and bonfires,” says Morten Nielsen. The bus operators are expected to continue their protests tomorrow.
The fine that started the protests is just one of a number of similar traffic-related fines. The fines serve as an alternative source of income for police officers who are beginning to feel the recent cut-backs on civil servant salaries in Swaziland.
Swaziland is effectively bankrupt due largely to the excessive spending on luxury items and prestige projects of Swaziland’s absolute monarch, Mswati III, who in effect controls all public spending.
All political parties are banned in Swaziland, where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day, many on food aid from the UN.