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Beaten, arrested and deported …

14 May 2012, Posted in NUMSA News

At a press conference at the Numsa head office in Johannesburg, delegates from various organisations told how they were beaten, arrested and deported by Swazi police during Operation Siyaya eSwaziland.

“Police called us illegal invaders, hell-bent on overthrowing the Swazi kingdom,” said Christine Olivier, Numsa’s second deputy president, after her release and deportation in September.

The arrests took place during a meeting in Manzini in support of the Swaziland Democratic Campaign (SDC), a coalition of progressive organisations including trade unions, political parties, church organisations, youths and students, women’s movements, rural organisations and other popular and civic movements in Swaziland and South Africa.

The meeting was part of the mobilisation for a week of action for democracy, marked by Global Day on September 7 2010.

“We want the kingdom to unban all political parties,” said Wandile Mazibuko, a youth league activist of Swayoco, who was also arrested during the meeting.

Mazibuko was speaking to Numsa News during a protest march outside the Swaziland consulate in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

“Swaziland is a country in crisis,” said 70-year-old veteran Mosa Hlope of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations, another activist who was detained and deported.

Hlope said it took police and security services less than five minutes to invade the conference hall in the Thomas George Hotel, Manzini, and separate foreigners from locals and women from men.

Seven delegates from Numsa and 26 delegates from Samwu were arrested, detained and interrogated. Some were beaten.
“Police said we insulted the king by singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica and not the Swazi national anthem,” said Olivier. “’You want to overthrow the kingdom of the Swazi?’” asked the police when arresting us.

We were treated like international criminals, driven at a ridiculous speed to the border and escorted by more than 400 police and security forces – for six people.”

But Olivier said their experience was “nothing compared to what Sipho Jele suffered. Jele was murdered by Swazi police for wearing a T-shirt, which in Swaziland can be termed treason if it bears the logos or emblems of political parties, or slogans”.

About 71% of the Swazi population lives in extreme poverty with an income of under $1 per day, and about 51% are HIV-positive according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), an international watchdog.

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) has demanded the unbanning of all political parties, the scrapping of laws that prohibit free political activity, particularly the suppression of Terrorism Act and an end to frequent arrests, brutal detentions and even killing of political activists by the regime of King Mswati.

They further call for an end to royal extravagances and the abuse of national resources.

The ILO said Swaziland faced a barrage of criticism. The tripartite alliance of the ANC, SACP and Cosatu has also condemned the denial of freedom of expression and association by the government of Swaziland.

In the SADC region, only Zimbabwe and Swaziland do not respect human rights and the dignity of the people, said Samwu international officer Stephen Faulkner.

“It is surprising that the South African government is silent about these issues,” Faulkner said.

“We will continue to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Swaziland and support the SDC in their call to allow, through democratic means, the people of Swaziland to overcome 37 years of suppression and dictatorship by the monarch.

We call all concerned groups to mobilise and support the plight of the Swazi people,” he added.


Numsa News No 3, October 2010