By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-11-08
MANZINI Station Commander Raphael ‘Skheshekheshe’ Maseko has revealed that he had to exercise extreme restraint from shooting a teacher who was strangulating him and trying to disarm him.
Maseko appeared before the commission investigating the events which took place between August and October 2018 which saw the police clashing with protesters.
Giving evidence before the commission the station commander revealed how he had to restrain himself from shooting Maxwell Myeni, who was on top of him trying to take his service pistol.
Maseko said he was very close to finishing off Myeni during a scuffle which ensued between him and the teacher at the SNAT Centre last year.
In his evidence he informed the commission that while trailing Myeni behind avoiding being hit by stones thrown at him by teachers, Myeni who was two metres away jumped at him roughly and grabbed him by his uniform jacket and started strangulating him while with his left arm going for his gun.
Maseko said while still shocked, the teacher tripped him and he fell on the tar road with the teacher coming on top of him.
He said the teacher pressed him hard on the hard surface and continued to strangle him. The station commander said on two occasions he brought the gun on Myeni’s chest while under him and told him to move away from him but the teacher was just resilient.
“In my magazine I had three live rounds of ammunition with which I told myself should any foreign body other than the one on top of me touch my flesh I would finish with the one on top of me before going for the second invader,” Maseko said.
Maseko added that he exercised extreme restraint when he was being attacked by a man for no apparent reason.
The station commander said that erratic behaviour of Myeni agitated him so much. He said lucky enough, he was able to gain composure while under Myeni.
Maseko informed the commission that he pulled all his strength to overcome Myeni without harming him. He said on his right side was his gun while on his left his stick but he never harmed Myeni.
He explained that he struggled until the two of them were seated but still he was under the teacher’s strong grip.
The station commander informed the commission that while he was involved in the scuffle with Myeni, he heard a gun go off but he did not see who had fired the gunshot as he was under Myeni.
He said at that moment officer Madlopha came from behind them and grabbed Myeni, pulling him off from him.
Maseko said when he got up, the teachers surrounded him and Madlopha and they were determined to disarm them of their pistols.
Sensing danger, Maseko said they retreated with Madlopha until they were about a distance away from the SNAT Centre entrance.
Maseko said while retreating, back- up arrived and upon noting the back-up teachers raised their hands as if they were innocent people.
He said after the back-up arrived, they pushed teachers back to the SNAT Centre and closed the gate. Maseko said that was not easy as teachers forced the gate open.
The station commander proceeded to show officers pictures of the scuffle which occurred between him and Myeni.
Pictures both from the Eswatini Observer and Times of Eswatini were presented to the commission.
A teacher who was shot during the commotion which took place outside SNAT Centre in August last year is alleged to have refused assistance as he said police will arrest him instead of taking him to hospital.
This was revealed by Maseko during his submission before the investigating committee.
Maseko also informed the commission that during the skirmish a police officer was injured after he was hit on the forehead with a stone.
The station commander informed the committee on that fateful day, which was 24 August 2018 he received numerous phone calls about protesting teachers who had closed off the road near William Pitcher in the early hours of the morning.
Maseko said in the company of other officers they went to assess the situation. He said when they approached Manzini Central traffic lights they encountered heavy traffic as the road was closed ahead.
Maseko said they then proceeded on foot towards SNAT Centre with a few police officers. He alighted from the vehicle with the intention of negotiating with the crowd to move away from the road. Maseko said as he approached the crowd having taken about five steps without saying a word, a hail of stones were thrown at the police officers’ direction.
He said behind them there were a lot of vehicles making it impossible for them to turn and retreat as their retreating could have endangered lives and property. The station commander said there were about 10 vehicles which were parked behind them.
To quell the hail of stones directed towards them and avoid property being damaged, Maseko said he pulled his firearm to scare off the workers.
He said he thought by pulling his firearm the workers would be deterred from attacking them.
Maseko said it was the other way round as it seemed that action fuelled the demonstrators.
He said he cocked his gun and fired a warning shot into the air, but that also didn’t deter the demonstrators from attacking them as police.
He said it appeared as if the demonstrators had prepared themselves as they had lots of stones placed on the road which they threw at the officers.
Maseko said at that time he was joined by another police officer identified as Jabulani Madlopha who came to his left and the two of them scared the teachers back with their firearms as they continued firing warning shots into the air.
Maseko said at that time some of the teachers were retreating while some stayed put. Maseko said when he fired his second shot into the air he was halfway from the intersection leading to SNAT centre and William Pitcher.
He said at that time teachers reluctantly retreated inside SNAT Centre while some remained scattered outside pretending like they were not part of the action.
Maseko said at that time there was no time to utter any word as they simply pushed the teachers back to the SNAT Centre. He said some of the teachers remained inside while a bigger number was outside.
Maseko said again a hail of stones came from inside SNAT Centre directed to them. He said by that time he was by the fire set up by teachers in the middle of the road.
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