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BYSTANDER PROTEST VICTIM’S FAMILY SPEAKS

By Bongiwe Dlamini | 2021-05-19

Manzini-  A man who was a bystander during the clash between members of the Royal Eswatini Police (REPS) and students might be permanently visually impaired after he was allegedly shot in the eye by police’s stray rubber bullet.

Phiwayinkhosi Dlamini is said to have been shot by the police at close range on Monday while at kaKhoza.

Sources claim that Phiwayinkhosi was not among the marchers but was a motorist who was stuck in traffic along others when the police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the marchers who were headed for Manzini, where a petition was to be delivered at the Police Regional Headquarters.

The march was organised by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) and joined byfamily members of the late Thabani Nkomonye and members of the public.

The objective was to demand answers from the Sigodvweni Police Station on why the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) Law student (Nkomonye) was allegedly killed.

Nkomonye died in a car accident at Nhlambeni on May 8, 2021 but his body was recovered four days later near the accident scene.

Since his wrecked car was towed by the police from the accident scene yet his body was allegedly not there, popular belief is that the police shot at his car that subsequently overturned and killed Nkomonye.

Proof Also, the public believes that the fact that Nkomonye’s body was not found until days later is proof that the police had a hand in his death and they were only trying to conceal evidence.

These are allegations that are still to be investigated by the recently appointed coroner Manzini Senior Magistrate Nonhlanhla Dlamini.

Worth noting is that as the students and members of the public marched from Matsapha to Manzini, there was traffic congestion from Mhlaleni to Nazarene near the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

When the marchers were near the Nazarene traffic lights where the police were waiting for them, water, teargas and rubber bullets were fired to disperse the crowd that ran back towards KaKhoza.

Meanwhile, some motorists that were stuck in traffic near the Seventh Day Adventist Church had halted their vehicles and some even alighted to observe what was happening far down the road by the traffic lights.

It is suspected that when the police fired at the marchers, the non-participating motorists, including Phiwayinkhosi, were caught in the crossfire as they had nowhere else to go.

Information gathered pertaining to the injured citizen is that he was on his way to Manzini on work-related business when he got injured.

After he was shot, sources said he was rushed to the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, but was later transferred to Mbabane Government Hospital.

Yesterday, his relatives said Phiwayinkhosi underwent an operation in hospital.

When Phiwayinkhosi sister Tengetile was sought for comment, she said the family was devastated by the incident.

She emphasised that Phiwayinkhosi was not part of the march, and was caught in the crossfire while stuck in traffic. When further questioned, Dlamini said the family would like to engage extensively on the matter once Phiwayinkhosi had undergone the preliminary medical processes.

For now, Dlamini said the family prioritised supporting their injured member. “Once he had gone through the preliminary medical processes, we will be in a better best position to make an informed commentary as we will be aware of the extent of his injuries by then,’’ she said.

Dlamini further asked for prayers while the family and Phiwayinkhosi were going through this challenging period.

On another note, when the Chief Police Information and Communications Officer, Superintendent Phindile Vilakati was sought for comment, she said the police have a record of two people who were injured during the mayhem of the march on Monday.

However, she said one of these was a police officer, but the police currently do not know the identity of the other injured person, as his statement is not yet recorded with them.

“We don’t have the particulars of the injured citizen, as he is currently admitted in hospital and he has not yet recorded his statement detailing what transpired on the day he got injured,’’ she said.

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