A Swaziland police officer pointed a gun in the face of a newspaper photographer to try to force him to destroy pictures he had taken of police beating up a protestor.
Walter Dlamini, of the Times Sunday, had taken photos at Gege where police had broken up a peaceful protest march by youth in the area. They were protesting against alleged irregularities at the recent election.
The Times Sunday reported, ‘Dlamini’s only sin was taking pictures of some police officers who were mercilessly beating a protestor, who was only identified by his name Brother next to a police vehicle. The officer pointed a short gun at Dlamini’s face and demanded why he took pictures of the officers who were at work.
‘The intervention of his colleague Mduduzi Magagula saved the day as the officer was informed to stop interfering with the work of journalists. He left in a huff as the reporters told him that the pictures they had taken would not be deleted.’
In an editorial comment, the paper’s companion title, the Times of Swaziland, said, ‘[T]his is harassment and intimidation of the highest order, an implicit threat to the life of the journalist.’
It added, ‘This sorry excuse for a police officer had reason to be worried; he and his colleagues were caught in the act assaulting a protestor who was manifestly not being threatening but was obviously being “punished”; being struck on the knee (where permanent damage could occur) with a heavy wooden truncheon by one uniformed brute while two others held him and another watched from a short distance, truncheons dangling in readiness from their hands.
‘The casual work-a-day savagery of these police officers and their sense of entitlement to brutalising Swazi citizens with impunity goes a long way to explaining why they would attack with teargas and batons what was a peaceful protest march before their intervention; once again proving the police are responsible for much of the violence that erupts during protests.’