By Bongumusa Simelane | 2019-09-26
WHAT began as a peaceful protest by the Public Sector Associations (PSAs) ended in a very sad note as 15 protesters were injured in a clash with police officers.
The injured protesters were hit by rubber bullets which were shot by the police officers as there was commotion between the protesters and the officers.
This happened after a long day of peaceful protest where the PSAs marched around the streets of Mbabane before heading to deliver petitions to the Eswatini Royal Police Services Headquarters, Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Education and Training.
The strike turned into a violent one shortly after the protesters started throwing stones at the security officers next to the Mbabane Government Hospital who in turnstarted to fire a couple of warning shots.
That did not scare the rowdy protesters as they continued to pelt the police officers as they sang struggle songs.
Not only that, the uncontrollable crowd threw stones at cars that were parked at the inter-ministerial complex which houses the ministry of education and training, treasury, deeds office and finance.
That is when the police opened fire to the protesters where they started to run in all directions trying to get cover. Not only that the police also fired tear gas in efforts to disperse the angry protesters. By that time the protesters were scattered all over the place as they ran away from the police officers’ retaliation.
This publication has it that there were 15 people who got shot by rubber bullets and they were rushed to Mbabane Government Hospital in ambulances.
All the shot protesters were attended to at the hospital and discharged but that did not sit well with the casuals as they believed that the police were not supposed to shoot at them.
Among the shot protesters, one of them was hit multiple times at the back and on the right leg.
When asked if she could remember what happened she said she was on the back of the car that was carrying speakers and some PSAs leaders and was hit by the stray rubber bullets.
The emotional teacher blamed the police for shooting at them saying there was no need to open fire to an unarmed group of protesters.
Most of the teachers who were shot at were females and among them were three victims who got injured while escaping from the police shots (stampede).
It is reported that they were caught at the overflow of the stampede and they fell to the ground. It is then that they got trampled over by the others who were also escaping from the police.
One teacher who was interviewed said she was trying to take cover from the police shots, but she fell to the ground and when she got up, it was when she got hit by the rubber bullet.
What was also observed was that there were some SNAT officials who made sure that their members were taken care of , ensuring that the situation was under control.
All the injured protesters were registered by the leadership of SNAT.
When reached for comment, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said no injuries were reported to the police by the time this report was compiled.
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