By Lunga Masuku
MBABANE – Going through the preliminary report investigated by the Human Rights Commission on the unrest that swept through the landlocked Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, leaves one wondering as to what had become of the country’s security apparatus.
In an interview after the launch of the preliminary report, lead investigator, who is also the Legal Advisor for the entity Phumlani Dlamini told Siyalu Media that there were a lot of grey areas that had seen the commission not getting the exact number of people who were shot by security personnel. A case in point, was when nurses in some health facilities indicated on some prescription forms that victims had injuries instead of specifying that the injury was as a result of gunshot wounds.
The commission found out that a total of 291people were shot during the first two days of the rolling mass action, which later degenerated into a nationwide civil unrest. Of those, who were shot, a total of 36 were shot in the upper parts of their bodies. There were further four who were shot in their heads, with a further 63 people being shot in the lower parts of their bodies, another two had their legs amputated at the time of the investigation.
“There were 22 people who sustained multiple injuries, 118 suffered unspecified injuries, the commission at the stage could not verify if these were as a result of rubber bullets or live rounds of ammunition.
“Injured persons were admitted to hospitals while a large number of them underwent operations to extract the bullets from their bodies. However, some of the victims could not get the bullets removed from their bodies since the bullets were lodged in delicate parts of their bodies. It was further established that an unknown number of casualties did not go to hospital for treatment in fear of being arrested,” the report reads in part.
The commission also found out that there were victims who suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the gunshot wounds and as such use catheters, and others cannot function without support. In other cases, victims were left with permanent disabilities as a result of the injuries. While the commission was conducting its investigations, it was shown some of the bullets extracted from the victims, but a majority of the victims told the commission that some hospital administrators refused to give them the extracted bullets, there was no immediate reason given that.
Children under-age were not spared from handcuffs of the security personnel, as they were reportedly arrested during the protests, there were 19 of such children who went through that ordeal. Those arrested spent a number of days before being admitted to hefty bail, there was one whose parents had to pay E40 000. There were two children who died as a result of gunshot injuries.
The Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission Sabelo Masuku invited those who might have more information on some of the unaccounted for unrest victims to contact them so that his entity could have accurate figures.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION UNPACKS SEVERITY OF CIVIL UNREST
By Lunga Masuku