eSwatini protesters’ bodies ’tossed in fire’ – CPS
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Rustenburg - Bodies of some murdered pro-democracy protesters were tossed in a raging fire at the Swaziland Beverages Company, the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) alleged.
"At least five people have been confirmed dead following attacks by the military during the Manzini-Matsapha protests since last night (Tuesday night)," general secretary Thokozane Kunene said in a statement on Wednesday, giving an update on the ongoing pro-democracy protests in eSwatini.
"In a bid to conceal the increasing number of deaths, Mswati’s military dumped some of the murdered protesters in the fire that was burning at the Swaziland Beverages Company in Matsapha. The military is doing all it can to conceal evidence of its brutal murders."
He said the military was also involved in the shooting of protesters in Ezulwini near the capital city Mbabane.
“The regime used the internet blackout to invade people’s homes, randomly assault, shoot and kill people, hoping the attacks would not be detected.”
The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, is engulfed in violent protests pushing for a democratic dispensation in the tiny kingdom.
The protest started peacefully in the Manzini region on June 20 when the youth took to the streets in a push for the right to choose a prime minister democratically as opposed to the prime minister being appointed by the king.
They also demanded that King Mswati III hand over power as the absolute monarch and allow democracy to prevail in the landlocked southern African country.
The protests turned violent on June 28 when buildings were torched and shops looted in Matsapha. It was believed the torched businesses were owned by King Mswati III.
Protesters also forced the Times of Swaziland newspaper to shut down, accusing it of being pro-government in its reporting.
The protests turned violent after acting prime minister Themba Masuku suspended the delivery of petitions to Tinkhundla, traditional administrative subdivisions.
In a statement, Masuku assured the nation that the government has been following the protests and would address their grievances.
"We will be working with parliament and all concerned stakeholders to action them accordingly," he said.
According to the Swaziland Solidarity Network, a South African-based solidarity movement, the people of eSwatini had set out a straightforward plan of engaging the government.
"The delivery of petitions is the first step. The government has been given until the end of July to respond to all demands contained in the petitions, failing which the constituencies would then deliver the same petitions to the regional administrators," spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said in a statement.
He said after regional action the people were to take their grievances to the national government.
"Failure by the national government to accede to these demands will lead the people to make the country totally ungovernable until their demands are met.
"By declaring that this programme of action is not procedural, and brutally crushing it, the government has only fanned the flames of what is gradually becoming a nationwide revolt," Lukhele said.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), a non-profit organisation based in South Africa, has also condemned human rights violation in eSwatini.
"Since the beginning of the protests, several videos have emerged showing police using violence to disperse protesters," the rights body said in a statement.
It said the police were seen using excessive force and tear gas to disperse protesters, contrary to Section 49 of the Police Service Act No. 22 of 2018, which makes it a disciplinary offence to use violence or unnecessary force or to intimidate a person with whom the officer may be in contact with in the execution of duty.
On Wednesday, the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) said at least 21 people had been killed.
"We were offline due to internet shutdown. We have 21 confirmed cases of Swazi patriots killed by the state security. In honour of our fallen patriots we will soldier on until democracy," the youth movement said on its social media portal.
South African opposition political party the Democratic Alliance (DA) has also weighed in on the eSwatini protest, calling on International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor and her counterparts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to initiate a process of pro-democracy talks between the Kingdom of eSwatini and political parties.
"It is critical that the South African government and SADC reach out and offer immediate mediation between the monarchy and the leaders of the protest. It is in the best interest of the Swazi people and the region as a whole to ensure the consolidation of democracy throughout SADC," Darren Bergman, the party spokesperson on international relations and co-operation, said in a statement.
- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher