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.
STRIKING TEACHERS WILL BE ARRESTED