SALC IN THE NEWS: eSwatini police attack unarmed protesters with batons, stun grenades

> Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association, Human Rights > Swaziland, Eswatini
Salc : Staff Writer


Police in eSwatini have come under fire after they used batons and stun grenades to disperse protesting workers in Manzini.

According to reports demonstrators and police clashed in Swaziland during a protest action to demand higher wages and reforms to the way the state pension fund was managed.

According to Reuters, several workers were wounded in the clashes, as police used batons, stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The organisers of the demonstrations, however, vowed to continue with the protest until Thursday as the protests were also taking place in other parts of the country, including the capital Mbabane, Siteki and Nhlangano.

There were no reports of violence or injuries in the other cities.

In a statement, the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) urged the police to act with restraint when dealing with the demonstrators.

“The Public Order Act of 2017 encouraged a new dispensation in which protests ought to be allowed to take place with minimal police interference. The Act specifies that police may only intervene in a gathering when there is an immediate danger, and any action taken by the police must be necessary and proportionate,” said SALC.

SALC also called for immediate investigation over the police actions after videos on social media showed police attacking unarmed protesters with batons.

In June, at least four protesters were injured after police used rubber bullets to break up a workers’ protest over alleged government corruption.

The protests which were organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland at the time, was over accusations that millions of dollars had been removed from the national pension fund by the government of King Mswati III, one of the world’s few absolute monarchs.

Parliament instituted a probe into the alleged scandal, but it was later halted.