By Ackel Zwane | 2018-05-12
Political activists donned in political activism material such as t-shirts were turned away at the Ngwenya Border while on the way to participate in the protest march organised by the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union in Mpumalanga calling for the release of Amos Mbedzi, the Lozitha bridge bomber and other political prisoners.
Eswatini insists that there are no political prisoners in the country but Sakhile Nxumalo of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress says there are several political prisoners currently out on bail and waiting prosecution by the state.
Provincial secretary Thabo Mokoena said they were in solidarity with the union leader from Eswatini who was silenced for standing up for workers rights.
He had announced that the protest at Oshoek border gate called for Mbedzi’s release.
“The union will be campaigning for the release of the liberation struggle icon Amos Mbedzi, who is languishing in the prisons of Eswatini,” he said.
The activists who were turned away said police told them that an order to bar them from crossing the border had been issued but did not say by who and how it was drafted.
They complained that they brought with them authentic travelling documents and had also been encouraged by a newspaper report attributed to Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane that; “All we know is that not even a Head of State has the right to close borders with other countries without getting permission from the United Nations, let alone protesters. As a state, we have a right to protect our sovereignty and when we do, the world won’t miss it.”
Meanwhile, there was heavy police presence at the border while the protests went on in full force on the other side for the duration of the two hours allocated without any incidence.
While Mbedzi was cited as a union leader, Simelane was quoted saying Mbedzi was serving time for being found guilty of murder and being found in possession of explosives without a permit.
He was also found to have been in the country without a passport and further killed two people whom he was with when he attempted to plant the bomb at Lozitha bridge.
He is further quoted saying those who say there are political prisoners in the country had not done their homework properly, something he said was typical of low cost politics pushers. “The state knows Mbedzi as a murderer and has no record of his political career.”
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