Police threaten to shoot defiant striking workers

Accompanied by a contingent of officers senior superintendent Samuel Moepeng gave the workers 15 minutes to vacate the grounds, as he read out what he referred to as a declaration;

“All of you gathered here in the name of the President of the republic of Botswana, that you vacate this place…according to the law this strike is over. In the name of the Botswana President, please go back to your homes. Those who are refusing will be dispersed out of here by force. This might include firing on them directly,” he said.

Though some tried to put up a brave front, they finally left in trickles as the police officers brandishing guns and baseball bats herded them out of the grounds.

By press time, no incidents of violence had been reported. However some dejected striking workers said they blamed their union leadership, accusing them of “having betrayed us. They have failed to come and address us to explain to us what really happened. We have just been told through the media that the strike is suspended,” they said.

Meanwhile in Mogoditshane, Thamaga and other areas workers trooped back to their work places, leaving their strike meeting places.

“We are at work but have been doing nothing at all, this is unbelievable. I can’t believe the strike ended just like that.”
Meanwhile Botswana National Front (BNF) leader Duma Boko, who was at the GSS grounds before and after the police removed strikers said that “what the police are doing is illegal. They are not supposed to remove you from here when the strike is still on,” he told the strikers.

Efforts to solicit comment from Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions secretary general Andrew Motsamai were futile as his mobile rang unanswered.

Meanwhile police spokesperson assistant commissioner Christopher Mbulawa said the police dispersed the strikers on the premise that the BOFEPUSU leadership had suspended the strike and therefore “any gathering is deemed as illegal because it is not sanctioned by their leadership,” he said.

The police spokesperson said the proclamation is such that “you tell people to disperse and remind them that if they don’t, firearms will be used against them.

So I dispute your assertion that the officer reading out the proclamation said they will be shot directly, I am sure he said they will use firearms against them, if need be,” he told Mmegi.

http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=1&aid=1590&dir=2011/June/Tuesday14

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