NTONDOZI: Mangaliso Nkwanyana, a member of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force(UEDF)based at Engabezweni Royal Residence was arrested by the police on Saturday for allegedly organising a pro-democracy protest at Ntondozi.
It has been disclosed that police who were shooting protesters with teargas canisters and live ammunitions in that area noticed that there were members of the security forces among those leading the protest and started retreating thinking the officers were armed.
After the protest, the royal guard was then followed by the police and arrested at Ntontozi Bus Stop while waiting for a public transport to take him back to work, he was first detained at Malkerns Police Station on Saturday before being handed over to the Military Police at Phocweni.
Reached for comments, Yvonne Maseko, a cousin to the arrested soldier confirmed the matter, however, she declined to give further details saying she was not the authorised family member to share further details about the arrest.
“It’s true, he was arrested on his way to work after participating in the protest, now he is currently kept at Phocweni. But I cannot share further details, even though I’m his relative, it’s best that you contact his close relatives”, she said.
Efforts to reach Tengetile Khumalo, the Spokesperson of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force(UEDF) proved unsuccessful at the time of compiling this report, her phone rang unanswered after being called several times.
But a member of the royal guard who spoke to this Swaziland News demanded the release of the soldier saying as security officers they were oppressed and needed democracy more than the general members of the public.
“We are oppressed here Nkhosi it’s just that other people think we are enjoying, some of my colleagues who were deployed to the rural areas to control the protests were even complaining about food, they work long hours with empty stomachs. The problem here is that among us there are those who are in support of the ongoing calls for democracy while others support the King, kungako noma sikhuluma nje sisodvwa ucale ucalate kutsi lona lococa naye ungakuphi(meaning: Even when we discuss these issues among us, you must be sure that the person you are speaking to is on the same faction calling for democracy”,said the member of the royal guard.
Reached for comments, Sibongile Mazibuko, the President of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress(NNLC) said soldiers and all members of the security forces were being abused by the royal family.
“These officers were initially employed to protect the Nation but the King is abusing them, sometimes they are forced to donate for the King’s birthday. Others who get international trips hoping to use their allowances to take care of their families are forced to present money to the King as tetfulo. We call upon other security officers to stand-up, support and demand the release of this officer who has been arrested trying to liberate the Nation and his colleagues. We call upon even retired soldiers and other officers to put pressure and make sure nothing happens to this officer, security officers have the power to liberate themselves and the Nation”, said the NNLC President.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa and ruled by King Mswati as an absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, the King is facing political pressure to surrender power to the people as protests intensify in the rural areas.
Arrested royal guard Mangaliso Nkhwanyana