Mbabane: Independent News reporter, Andile Langwenya is fighting for his life at the Mbabane Government Hospital after he was allegedly tear-gassed by police at Msunduza, Mbabane on Friday.
Langwenya was tear-gassed while covering what was supposed to be a petition delivery march by Mbabane East Constituency electorate to their Member of Parliament, Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga
It has been reliably gathered that police fired teargas in a bid to disperse the protesters where many were affected. It has also been established that during the protest, a car which was trying to negotiate its way to town was stoned and its windows smashed.
Sought for comment, Police Information Communications Officer (PICO) Phindile Vilakati requested not to comment on the issue saying they have not yer received a full report of the strike action at Msunduza.
Sifiso Sibandze, Independent News Editor condemned the police act in the strongest sense. Sibandze wondered why police did not treat journalists as neutral premised on the fact that Langwenya was not participating in the riot but just doing his job as a journalist. He then wished Langwenya a speedy recovery. “Police should stop employing hooliganism tactics when doing their job. The tear-gassing of people have for time immommerial attracted lawsuits for the state which are eventually settled by taxpayers’ money. In worst-case scenarios, people lose their lives through the police’s reckless acts,” Sibandze said.
By the time of compiling this report, the reporter was still being attended to by doctors at the Mbabane Government Hospital.
The protest march is part of the ongoing marches which are currently taking place across the country where emaSwati are delivering petitions to their Tinkhundla centers to voice out their grievances.
As the protest marches intensified, on Thursday the acting prime announced that protest marched to the Tinkhundla centers were banned with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy MPs and the Political Parties Assembly called for the defiance of the acting prime minister’s statement saying that it was unconstitutional and baseless.
In a press conference on Thursday, they said, no amount of threat, and intimidation can ever stop them, he said freedom of expression and freedom of assembly is the right of the people spelled out in the constitution, therefore he urged members not to be shaken.
PPA’s said they urge everyone to defy the statements made by the acting prime minister and stand firm in their rights. They said emaSwati must unite and continue with the program of action which is the delivery of petitions across the country, voicing concerns to the members of parliament.