Swaziland protests: SA journo released

2011-04-12 16:03

Media24 Africa editor André le Roux was released from police custody this afternoon after being arrested following a police crackdown on dissidents ahead of today’s protests in Swaziland.

Le Roux told City Press he was taken in by police and instructed not to take any pictures of the events in Swaziland.

“About 30 to 40 police officers came out in full riot gear with water cannons and batons in Manzini’s main street to contain the crowd of protesters that gathered at the bus depot,” Le Roux said.

He said the police re-acted after some of the people in the crowd threw stones at them.

“That led to police firing stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd to disperse them. The police then arrested me and took my camera which they later returned. The commissioner instructed me not to take any pictures,” Le Roux said.

“He then told me to leave Swaziland.”

Wendy Hleta, Swaziland police spokesperson, earlier on denied having detained Le Roux.

“Some people were brought in for questioning and there is no one by that name that has been arrested,” Hleta said.

“We had to take people in to finalise their accreditation as it was normal practice for people entering a foreign country to undergo that process,” she said.

Reggy Moalusi, Daily Sun’s assistant editor, was also arrested together with Kaya FM and Radio 702 journalists covering the run-up to the planned mass protests. They were later released.

“We were stalked and questioned but later released,” Moalusi said.

Sikelela Dlamini, one of the protest action co-ordinators, said he evaded arrest when the police raided the offices of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (Snat), arresting his fellow comrades.

Dlamini said he was in hiding and would wait until relative calm returned before re-appearing.

“Police stormed into our offices and arrested Mary Pais Da Silva, Swaziland democracy campaign (SDC) convener, and two others,” Dlamini said.

“They turned everything upside down and some of our comrades were heavily beaten.

“I am worried (about) their condition as they were heavily assaulted – it’s actually unspeakable,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini said he heard gun shots and later realised that police were shooting tear gas at some protesters who gathered close to the taxi rank.

He said that they would continue protests until a democratic dispensation is installed in Swaziland.

Hleta could not be reached later this afternoon to comment on Dlamini’s claims.

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