- One of the biggest known defectors from the UEDF was the Commander, General Jefferey Shabalala
- At the height of the June 2021 unrest, a senior police officer (Senior Superintendent) was implicated in the burning of an OK Food Store in Matsapha.
Mbabane-The Eswatini armed forces that comprise of the Royal Eswatini Police Service, His Majesty’s Correctional Services and the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force are reported to be heavily infiltrated by members of the so-called underground forces.
The infiltration of the armed forces is said to be having a negative effect on the forces ability to implement intelligence information that it gathers as it invariably ends up in the hands of those that it is investigating or attempting to arrest.
Reconnaissance missions in an attempt to obtain information by visual observation or other detection methods, about the activities and resources of the under-ground forces or potential enemy is also reported to have been hampered by this situation. This has mainly been the type of civil information that security forces need in order to support military operations against the enemy (underground forces) who have attacked and destroyed private and public property costing millions of Emalangeni.
The property that has been subjected to attacks and destruction has included the residences of police officers, police camps, Tinkhundla centres and business property such as that which has severely affected operations at the Inyatsi Construction Company.
In more recent times, the subversive operations of the underground forces have targeted police officers causing a number of fatalities in the process.
Speaking in a video message to his supporters and the member of the public on June 30 2022 the President of the Peoples United Democratic Forces (PUDEMO), Mlunigisi Makhanya mentioned that “we have moles in the police, the army and the correctional services who have been informing us timeously of the government’s strategy and we urge them to continue giving out the information that has been extremely useful in directing our fighters.”
The morale among members of the country’s armed forces is also reported to be very low. Apparently, they are disillusioned with the status quo at national government and would like a change. Members of the REPS are particularly susceptible to mutiny and defection. Many of the defectors have chosen to remain incognito or faceless and nameless. However, there are a few who have defected openly such as the infamous Sergeant Cebile Shongwe also known as Cece.
Sergeant Cebile “Cece” Shongwe resigned from REPS in 2021 after the June unrest which saw more than 50 people shot and killed by the country’s security forces. She subsequently joined PUDEMO and has been extremely critical of the national police service and the country as well. Another member of the security forces who has joined a pro-democracy organisation is former a warder from the Correctional Services department, Mzwandile Dlamini. Dlamini joined the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO).
Like many pro-democracy activists, “Cece” has taken refuge in neighbouring South Africa where it is reported that a large number of the underground forces have taken refuge while they prepare to launch attacks on targets in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Talking on social media platforms Shongwe has expressed that she has no fear of death especially if it comes as a result of what she calls truthful utterances. In one of her video appearances she disclosed that some of their informants were highly trusted officials from within the Eswatini regime. This further confirmed the infiltration theory within Eswatini’s security forces.
One of the biggest known defectors from the UEDF was the Commander, General Jefferey Shabalala. Shabalala was forced to resign from the army after a recording in which he reportedly said that it was King Mswati III who ordered the army to shoot to kill protesting citizens during June 2021 civil unrest where a large number of citizens called for democratic reforms, and resulted in burned shops and looting nationwide. The audio was leaked and it transpired that the General was communicating with the police dissident, Sergeant Cebile “Cece” Shongwe.
During the telephonic conversation, Shabalala tells Shongwe that the security forces are planning to assassinate the Swazi News Editor Zweli Martin Dlamini popularly known as Zwemart, who lives in exile in South Africa. Shabalala tells Shongwe that the Eswatini government will reward South African intelligence agents for revealing Dlamini’s whereabouts.
Zwemarts death was planned to look like an accident. The audio, also captures Shabalala revealing to Shongwe how King Mswati had allegedley put pressure on police to arrest two incarcerated Members of Parliament (MPs); Hosea’s Bacede Mabuza, Ngwempisi’s Mthandeni Dube and Siphofaneni’s Mduduzi Simelane. Mabuza and Dube
Shabalala continued to inform Shongwe that Mswati had allegedly complained to his security commanders that the police had arrested and charged an off-duty policeman who shot dead a man who was criticising Mswati in a bar.
The audio reveals Shabalala disclosing that King Mswati asked his commanders how they could arrest this man without a hearing when he was defending the king’s good name yet they kept offering excuses not to arrest the three dissident MPs. The three MPs had called for the country’s Prime Minister to be elected and not appointed by the king. Mabuza and Dube were eventually charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act for inciting Emaswati to revolt against the government. Mduduzi Simelane has been branded a fugitive from Justice after fleeing to South Africa.
The increase in dissident members within the armed forces is reported to be creating stress not only to the National Commissioner (NATCOM) of Police, William Tsitsibala Dlamini but also to the head of state himself. At the height of the June 2021 unrest, a senior police officer (Senior Superintendent) was implicated in the burning of an OK Food Store in Matsapha. The officer appeared in CCTV footage using explosives to bomb the shop.
Interviewed on the matter the (NATCOM) said I am shocked that a police officer who has been given the duty to protect people and property used explosives to burn down a shop. I have asked that a report on the matter be availed to me.”
His Majesty King Mswati has repeatedly reprimanded all those involved in arson attacks, burning of property and the assassination of police officers. In January 2022 the King was scathing in his condemnation of the faceless attackers and warned those responsible for the ongoing subversive acts to stop with immediate effect. He said any further attacks on property and emaSwati would be considered as a direct attack on the king himself.