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Teargas fired as police, UNISWA students clash

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MBABANE – UNISWA students yesterday clashed with police and were blocked from travelling to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

This has since led to yet another indefinite closure of the campus. Teargas canisters were fired to disperse the groups and some students were assulated in the process of denying them access to visit the ministry. The confrontation started when the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) students aboard two of four buses they had hired were forced back by the police along the Malagwane Hill at Bahai. The police argued that the buses had no permits to allow them entry to the capital city.

It is also alleged that gunshots were fired leaving at least two students injured. However, the police denied this save for firing teargas canisters to disperse them. The students are protesting and demanding an increment in allowances and want to have a say in the scholarship policy. Meanwhile, the other two buses were stopped at Mangwaneni traffic lights where the police had mounted a road block and they were turned back.

The police refused the group of students to march via the city centre to the labour ministry but instead ordered them to use an alternative route via the correctional services to the labour offices. The students refused. Having learnt that their colleagues who travelling behind aboard the other two buses had been stopped at Bahai, they then decided to march down Malagwane Hill to meet them. The police refused that they march down the highway and that is when all hell broke loose.

Teargas canisters were fired to disperse them with armed riot police after them as others sought refuge at the Mbabane Government Hospital. The students had no option but to regroup, board the buses and drive back while at the same time looking for their scattered colleagues along the route back to Manzini as some escaped and ran to as far as Mvutshini.

Deputy Assistant Police Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent Wendy Hleta said the students had to be dispersed to prevent them marching on the streets let alone the highway without having sought permission. “They intended to march from the city to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security without having been authorised by even the Mbabane Municipality,” said the police mouthpiece.

“The Malagwane group of students were travelling in buses that had no variation permits allowing them entry in the capital city. When those students were told they could not march up the highway they became violent and had to be dispersed,” said the police PRO explaining the Malagwane confrontation.

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