Armed cops in a show of force

MALINDZA – Fully armed riot police now train on public road and in bushes.

This past week, vehicles had to give way to allow a battalion of police officers, armed with rifles, to march uniformly on one lane of Malindza-Mpaka road.

This was on Wednesday.

One police officer controlled traffic as cars were forced to share one lane as the other one was occupied by training police officers attached to Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU).

Holding the rifles tight and taking instructions from a police trainer, their march covered a distance of about three kilometres. A truck ferried them to a start-up point, three kilometres away. The truck then returned to a spot near Malindza High School, which was their end point. They had to march from where they alighted from the truck to the spot near the high school.

Civilians watched in curiosity, apparently wanting to know the purpose of the training conducted in their area during hot weather.

Shadrack Tsabedze, a resident, said he saw the riot police rolling on the ground and sprinting towards the bushes.

“I saw them once training here but that was four years ago,” he said. Their facial expression sent a precise message that they were serious with the training. There was no shouting as they usually do when conducting trainings at their main base at Ngonini. They marched silently. The officer controlling traffic did not issue verbal instructions to motorists but used his hand to direct the vehicles to give way for the training battalion.

OSSU is a paramilitary police wing trained to counter riots.

They are training using methods similar to those of the army.

In other countries, when the army goes astray or plots to overthrow the government, the riot police squad is the one expected to contain the soldiers.

Gangadza Masilela, a faceless user of Facebook is feared to be organising an uprising for April 12, 2011.

The threat is being taken seriously. Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini told parliament this past week that Gangadza would be tracked down and brought to book.

There is talk that the planned revolt is being staged to overthrow government. The PM’s administration is accused of failing the country, resulting in a cash-flow crisis.

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