Swazi cops fire teargas, beat teachers

2011-04-12 13:23

Manzini, Swaziland – Swazi police today stormed the teachers’ union offices, firing teargas and using batons to beat the crowd of 1 000 people who had been blocked from a pro-democracy protest, a teacher said.

“Police are now beating the teachers. They are are throwing teargas and beating teachers. People are running helter skelter. Police are beating us with batons,” said Smangele Mmema, member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, one of the main groups behind the protest movement.

Police earlier fired teargas and water cannons to stop about 1 000 teachers and students marching to the main city of Manzini to a banned march against King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The protesters then regrouped at the union’s offices on the outskirts of the city, where they barricaded themselves inside as police followed, she said.

Teachers’ union leaders Muzi Mhlanga and Sibongile Mazibuko were among the dozens of activists arrested earlier today as police tried to stamp out the protest.

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