Angered by loss of their properties, government orders police to go hard on protestors, prosecutors to oppose bail and Magistrates bend law accordingly
The government of eSwatini is out on a full scale war against their people. They have not just unleashed soldiers on the streets, enforced strict curfews but have now instructed the country’s prosecutors to oppose bail for anyone associated with the protests. The Magistrates, many of whom working on acting basis, have denied bail to scores of people charged for protest related crimes. The war against the people is not being fought in the streets alone but the state has unleashed its lieutenants within the judiciary system to frustrate all those who had hoped to get bail and be released. Many of those arrested by the police are still languishing in jail without charges while those charged have been denied bail.
Lawyer Sabelo Chicken Dlamini and Thabiso Mavuso were shocked out of their wits when they were told by a Magistrate while representing their client that they had been told to deny bail. There are already reports that in Siteki one protestor was sentenced to two years in prison without an option of a fine. The High Court has since been flooded with review applications and as many as 100 applications want to be granted bail. All this is because the Ministers and King are angry that their properties were targeted, looted or torched.
The economic loss to the King and Ministers’ private property is astronomical and has hardened attitudes at Hospital Hill. Even worse is that the king feels his businesses were a rallying point for the destruction and is extremely unhappy and wants strong action to be taken against the protestors. In fact, the damage to property in the country is far more than reported. Montigny alone, the owners of Usutu Forests, lost about 460 hectares in just one fire. This was kept out of the news. The forest owner and vocally pro-royal family Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg and his right hand man Andrew le Roux, were targeted at their homes in Mhlambanyatsi and had to be quickly evacuated to South Africa to avoid any physical harm. The Minister’s family was rattled after a widely circulating audio of Gayle Horn, a Malkerns resident, was mistakenly thought to be Minister Neil’s wife's Barbara.
In the audio Horn goes on a wild rant claiming there was no need for political intervention in the country blaming everything under the sky for the recent unrest. She blames everything from foreigners to activists based in England. Meanwhile, the fury of last week led to many of the unguarded property belonging to the king being torched while his Southern Star trucks had to be hidden and protected by security both inside and outside the country. Some people believed OK Foods belonged to the king, as a result most of their supermarkets have been looted and burned, along with their wholesalers, food transporters and so on. What was a chain is probably now a single supermarket. Minister of Agriculture Jabulani ‘Buy Cash’ Mabuza was perhaps the biggest loser as most of his chain stores in Piggs Peak and countrywide were torched and vandalised.
Mabuza was the target of the protestors as his home in Piggs Peak was invaded by protesters and had to run away and slept in the forests. Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku’s rental properties in Nhlangano were equally not spared while Minister of Commerce Manqoba Khumalo’s supermarkets in Luve and Ngculwini were vandalised and torched. The loss of property angered the Ministers and they were determined to act out of vengeance and spite to ‘deal’ with the looters. Proliferating information is that as much as over 60 people were killed by the army and these are statistics that are being collected by the activist nurses with the hope of submitting them to Amnesty International.
One Minister, whose name is known to this publication, was pushed to resign by his incensed family who felt that lines were crossed when lives started to be last. In fact, the Minster's children and wife even tried to pressure him to resign but the Minister felt his voice was needed more within cabinet if the political problem was to be solved in the way that the majority want.
Surgeons in the hospitals are spending hours on end removing bullets from injured protestors while those shot in the legs have been forced into amputation. Interestingly, Nathi Dlamini and Mmeli Comfort Hlatjwako have also filed an application at the High Court where they want the delivery of petitions at their Inkhundla in Lobamba Lomdzala to continue and promise to follow all the COVID protocols.