Swazi youth day (Phillip Nyalungu, 18 January 2006)
During the uprising in Swaziland on the 23rd January 1997 the police gunned down a young girl sent by her parents to the shop. It happened that Noxolo was a member of a student organization that comprised Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) members: SWAYOCO is the youth wing of the illegal pro-democracy party, the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). This sad experience immediately evoked the parallel situation in South Africa in 1976 in the the minds of Swazi youth. This gives us a very clear picture on how quickly the masses learn from, and inspire, each other’s struggles. Eventually the 23rd January was declared Youth Day in Swaziland by PUDEMO.
But this didn’t remove the gun barrel aimed at the Swazi youth by the Swaziland Royal Police. The policemen who shot Noxolo have been automatically exonerated. Her destitute, grief- stricken family’s hollow eye-sockets are looking up at the sky, with their emaciated palms held together, their pale lips moving with trembling, asking for justice.
Perhaps some are expecting that the dictatorial Swazi monarchy will act in good faith to have these police disciplined. We are always told the police and the army are there to protect and save the lives of society.
But does this happen when the victims are from the masses of the people, the destitute, forgotten and unnoticed families?.Ka-Khosa: this is where it happened, a little village; Noxolo’s home was 2 km from the shops, where she got
killed, a place turned into a battlefield during the uprisings across the country, where people asked just for that one small thing: freedom. And it was denied.
In fact, the shocking inhumane response by the monarchical state was to deem Noxolo’s father an enemy of the people! The grieving father: he was neither a member of political movement nor acquainted to anything to do with politics. The death of his beloved daughter brought everlasting agony in his family, but while they were mourning, in deep grief, their home was under watch by the army, and under and the Swaziland Royal Police. Anyone talking to the family was watched.
Subsequently Noxolo’s father was taken to the bush by the Swaziland Royal Police, away from his community and people, in the middle of night –to interrogate and torture him. This gruesome experience showed him the true picture of the state forces. He came out bravely to denounce these acts and now openly supported the youth movement. He said that only the political movement sympathized with him and comforted him, in recovering from the loss of his daughter at the hands of the people he trusted the most.
The youth during 1976 in South Africa would tell you the police are the
dogs of the enemy” The youth activists in Swaziland are saying the same: they live under the guns of the police and the army. Everywhere you go, you are under surveillance of what you say, read, write, hear and wear.
The Youth Day rallies in Swaziland are attacked: the police and the army
make sure the commemorations must never take place. It’s a battlefield, where anything the state force sees passing is a target.
Anywhere in the world, whenever the government feels threatened, it’ll send
the police and the army to shoot, arrest, detain, and beat, torture and
harass us. Although we have the democratically elected government of
national unity in South Africa, with an outstanding constitution protecting and advancing human rights, we’ve seen wave on wave of attacks on demonstrators by the police.
Like Noxolo’s father, we must face reality.