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Nompilo, aunt attack journalist

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By TIMES REPORTER - SWAZI TIMES-09-Jul-2010

KWALUSENI – A Times of Swaziland student journalist Samkelo Ngwenya has told how he has been attacked by Miss Swaziland and her aunt.

Nompilo Mncina and her aunt harassed Ngwenya when a scuffle broke out at the University of Swaziland yesterday during which he was punched and his camera was grabbed.

Ngwenya, a Journalism Mass Communication (JMC) student was attempting to interview the beauty queen on her exam results when she refused to answer on how she fared.

It was later discovered that Mncina had gone to the campus to remark. She took offence to being interviewed and her aunt jumped out of the car to attack Ngwenya.

The aunt identified as LaNgwenya grabbed the student journalist’s camera and further threw a punch at him but it landed on his shoulder. Mncina meanwhile was cheering her aunt and even ordered her to grab the camera and crush it. It is during this period that Mncina went for the camera as well and its strap snapped. The aunt then got control of the camera and took its memory card which contains pictures that had been taken prior to the interview.

"The women overpowered me and I did not fight back as I was quite shocked at what was happening," he said. The incident drew the attention of several students and varsity staff who later intervened by breaking the fight.

Police were called to the scene and ordered that Mncina, her aunt and the student journalist should drive to the Matsapha Police Station where assault charges were laid. Recounting his ordeal, Ngwenya said he had been curious how Mncina as a public figure had performed in the recent examination.

"When I spotted her I saw an opportunity to have an interview with her because she had not taken my calls previously." "I waited near the conference room where Mncina was scheduled to see the Senate to justify why she had applied for remarking. When she finally arrived, she alighted from a maroon Yaris saloon in the company of another woman. When she was about to reach the administration block, I greeted her and asked to interview her on why she was remarking. Her immediate reaction was: "Oh my God, I don’t want to talk to journalists". She immediately retreated to the car and drove away," Ngwenya said.

Ngwenya said he had waited patiently, hoping they would return, because they had an appointment with the Senate. He said they returned 20 minutes later at about 10:20 a.m. "Nompilo alighted from the car together with the female companion. Again, I politely asked for her comments. The female companion (her aunt) immediately ran into a tantrum and bellowed at me, saying "Nine bafana bemaphepha nimfunani lomnfwanami? Kunini solo nimlandzela? Myekeleni. (You newspaper boys, what do you want from my daughter. Stop following her and leave her alone). "At this point, Nompilo climbed the stairs leading to the conference room where the Senate was already seated."

Ngwenya said he had followed her, while her aunt immediately pushed him down, trying to stop him from following the beauty queen. In a scuffle that ensued thereafter, LaNgwenya threatened to crush the student journalist’s camera. "She further beat me by punching me, but I insisted I was not talking to her but Nompilo. It was then that she identified herself as Mncina’s aunt.

"I had accepted that Nompilo did not want to talk about the issue, which is why I finally opted to take a picture of her as she made for the entrance to the conference hall. She said she did not want to talk to the media. "When I tried to take a picture, Mncina and her aunt grabbed my camera, tearing its belt in the process. The aunt further threw the camera on the floor. At that point, Mncina shouted, saying the camera should be thrown downstairs. As her aunt lifted her hand to throw the camera, I held her hand. She fought me until onlookers gathered around. She then punched me on my shoulder. I tried to reach for the camera, but a security guard intervened and stopped the commotion."

Ngwenya said LaNgwenya was then in the possession of the camera and she refused to give it back. Instead, she removed the memory card from it. He said he called the police emergency number 999 and they arrived at 10:42 a.m. It was then that Mncina’s aunt surrendered the camera and the card to the police officers. The police officers asked Mncina’s aunt and the journalist to go to Matsapha Police Station.

...parents, lawyer arrive at police station

MATSAPHA - On arrival at the police station, Mncina was then accompanied by her biological parents, her lawyer and her aunt. A police officer identified as Sergeant Shiba asked her if she had anything to say but she elected to keep her silence, saying she had nothing to do with the matter.

She later claimed to have witnessed this reporter assaulting her aunt. Shiba asked for a version of the story from both the student journalist and Mncina’s aunt. "I was surprised when Mncina’s aunt claimed that I had assaulted her on the face, left arm and her left knee."

Both Ngwenya and Mncina’s aunt subsequently laid charges of assault against each other. Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent Wendy Hleta said charges of assault were laid against both the intern and beauty queen’s aunt. Swaziland National Association of Journalists President Mfanukhona Nkambule said the incident was an indication that many people still do not understand the work of journalists as they continued to be intimidated and harassed in the line of duty.

UNISWA Registrar Sipho Vilakati could not answer his phone when called for comment yesterday evening. The same applied to Miss Swaziland pageant licence holder Vinah Mamba who was called several times yesterday, the last call being made at 6.30 pm. Another journalist harassed by cop

SIGODVWENI – It was a bad day for journalists yesterday as another Times reporter was involved in a confrontation with a police officer at the Matsapha Police Station. The police officer was among those who had responded to the drama between Times student journalist Samkelo Ngwenya and Miss Swaziland Nompilo Mncina and her aunt at the University of Swaziland.

Times journalist Manqoba Nxumalo was confronted by the police officer who questioned him for taking pictures outside the Sigodvweni Police Station. The police officer grabbed the camera from the resistant hands of Nxumalo until other police officers came to calm their colleague. When Miss Swaziland and her family arrived they also refused to alight from their car saying they do not want Nxumalo to take pictures of them. Police officers persuaded them to alight. After 20 minutes, they alighted while Nxumalo took the pictures. Though Mncina’s father and aunt confronted Nxumalo for taking their pictures he was not deterred.


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