By ZWELETHU DLAMINI | 2018-01-14
An investigation by this newspaper has revealed that a minimum of 50 police officers are assigned as escorts for three high-ranking officials.
These are Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini, his deputy, Paul Dlamini and Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala who are all allocated police escorts for every assignment.
From calculations, it is believed that this number is possibly more than 50 police officers as this does not include those assigned to provide security in their residence and places of work.
Due to the nature of their work these three VIP’s need for security, the breakdown of shifts and the numbers of officers at any given time will not be revealed as such information could compromise their safety. The police escorts normally accompany these officials on every assignment and officials in the know have confirmed the figures for all three.
In the case of the three VIPs, the security detail is not the same as PM leads with over 20 followed by deputy prime minister with over 15 while the CJ follows with over 10 police officers assigned to him on a normal day.
Worth mentioning is that the provision of security to cabinet ministers, magistrates, judges and Parliamentary presiding officers is when they are on official engagement and usually they are escorted by a single officer.
The only high ranking officer who has round-the-clock protection is Kontjingila Acting Chief Senate President Gelane Zwane who has been assigned over four police officers following arson attacks and threats at her chiefdom. It is a norm that high ranking officials, cabinet ministers and judges are escorted at their personal residential and place of work especially when it is perceived that they are risky or there are security threats.
24-hour security is also allocated to ordinary citizen when the need arises as stated by the Chief Police Information and Communication Superintendent Khulani Mamba when responding to this publication over a fortnight ago on the matter of the senate president. Responding on the present figures, Mamba said nothing had changed over the years in terms of the numbers as they have always remained the same. He, however, did not confirm nor dispute the figures as he said the force could not reveal figures to the public.
“Nothing is new we have always provided security to the VIPs the figure remains the same there are no new developments. Security is given to people when there is a threat and because of their status,” he said.
He disputed that the senate president had been allocated 24-hour security saying the police only patrolled her chiefdom and guarded her when there was need.
Affirming the need for police officers to guard the VIPs, Swaziland Law Society Secretary Bongani Mdluli, intoning on the Chief Justice’s need for security, said judicial officers should be well secured given the nature of their job.
He noted that they deal with sensitive cases and sentenced people and ended up meeting them on the streets thereby deserved to be guarded. He however stated that due to resource constraints it may be difficult to allocate every magistrate and judge escorts hence it may justify why only the head of judiciary is escorted while the rest are not.
This is mismanagement of resources – Swaziland Nurses Association
Swaziland Nurses Association President Bheki Mamba said having over 50 police officers providing security to the three high ranking officials is taxing on the economy and it indicates mismanagement of resources considering the financial status of the country and the security threats levels.
“It is taxing to the economy when you have quite a huge number of people providing just security services. This then increases the recruitment of the police yet there are few people that they are providing this security.
This tells us that the high-ranking officials are telling us that they are not safe.
We don’t understand what makes them so insecure such that they would want to be heavily guarded in this manner in a country that we all know is peaceful,” he said.
Mamba added that Swazis were respectful and there was no threat to the country from outside hence they don’t see the reasons why the officials are guarded by such a huge number of people.
“The economy is suffering in terms of financing health care system in the country there is a shortage of medication in hospitals.
In terms of financing education in the country, the education system is going down, so you can’t have mismanagement in the manner at which it is happening,” he added. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Edgar Hillary said he had never had security since he was born as he did not need one. “I don’t need security. I still don’t believe that the security threat against my life. I cannot comment on behalf of other ministers as am not aware of their position.
I cannot comment about the security of the VIPs. It is the national commissioner’s task as he is the one responsible for security and conducts the assessment and then allocates them the security,” he said.
“Are they over 50? When have the unions counted them? But I don’t think they are that much. But from time immemorial the prime minister and deputy prime minister have been provided with security I don’t know what the unions have seen,” he added.
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