Crackdown on Swazi activists ahead of protests

Swazi police raided the home of a top union leader on Monday as security forces cracked down on activists on the eve of planned protests against King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

“People who are suspected to be behind the hostile events planned in the country are being raided, irrespective of their position,” said police commissioner Isaac Magagula.

“Everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise,” he told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“Right now we are conducting massive raids at places suspected of hiding material which is considered to be a threat to national security,” he said.

The early morning raid was at the home of Barnes Dlamini, president of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, who is one of the organisers of the demonstrations planned to start Tuesday.


Not unwarrented
“They produced a warrant. They were looking for guns, explosives and any material within my house that would connect me to any terrorist act,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said police had visited his home over the weekend, while he was in South Africa, and harassed his family. He said they did not find anything.

Three activists — Sifiso Dlamini, Themba Mabuse and Samkelo Ginindza — have also been reported missing after they were last seen being arrested at a roadblock near Manzini on Sunday night, their lawyer said.

“For now there is no confirmation that they have been detained. They were last seen at a roadblock outside Mbabane,” lawyer Mary Pais da Silva said.

Unions are at the forefront of the protest calls because political parties are banned in Swaziland.

Torture claim
Last week the national organiser of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress, Mcolisi Ngcamphalana, said he was held and tortured by police for 24 hours.

Three days of protests are to be held from Tuesday in the main city of Manzini, said Vincent Ncongwane, secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Labour.

Last week Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini declared the demonstrations illegal and warned anyone who took part did so at their own risk. — Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday