Two Swaziland schoolgirls, one aged nine, have been shot by state police in separate incidents during a teachers’ strike in the kingdom.
The nine-year-old, a grade five pupil from St Andrews Primary in Malkerns, 30 km outside the commercial city of Manzini, was shot and wounded in the leg by state police today (14 June 2012).
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Swaziland, reports, ‘The shooting came as hundreds of students from surrounding schools were chased and beaten by state police armed with teargas, guns and batons.’ This was on the second day of a nationwide strike by teachers seeking a 4.5 percent pay rise.
CHR reports, ‘According to students, who declined to be identified, a group of teachers came chanting and toyi-toying into Bosco High School and forced them out of classes. The students claimed even though their teachers were not around, they were continuing with their studies inside their classrooms.
‘A few minutes after the group of teachers had left fully armed members of the riot squad, and personnel from His Majesty’s Correctional Services budged into the school and fired tear gas canisters into classrooms.’
The shooting was confirmed by authorities at the St Andrews Primary School. They also confirmed that the young girl was heavily traumatised and had been admitted at Mankayane Hospital.
In a separate incident, another schoolgirl, whose age is not reported, was shot in the shoulder by police using rubber bullets.
CHR reports the form one pupil, who attends school at St Annes High School, was shot in the left shoulder, and was also injured on the forehead.
Her mother told CHR that after the shooting she took her daughter to the local police station where they were given a police report to enable her to go to hospital. They eventually returned home due to lack of transportation.
CHR reports, ‘Police brutality was also witnessed during the teachers’ protest march in the streets of Manzini. At least two members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) were interviewed by the Centre soon after their injuries.
‘A marshal, Mr Menzi Tsabedze, who was visibly in pain was injured in the leg during a scuffle that ensued between striking teachers and riot police. Mr Tsabedze believes he was hit on the leg with the butt of a gun whilst he was trying to control the crowd, whilst another female teacher bore a visibly bruised and bleeding knee; an injury she sustained after police tripped her and beat her.
‘At the close of the protest march in Manzini, tear gas canisters were fired, protestors were beaten up by fully armed riot police and personnel from His Majesty’s Correctional Services.’