Swazi Police say they raided a major trade unionist’s home because they had information bordering on national security. But they won’t say what that information was, the Times Sunday reports
22 May 2011
Why SFTU chief’s home was raided
MBABANE – Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula says the police acted on information bordering on national security when they searched Simon Mvubu’s homestead in Bethany, near Matsapha.
Mvubu is the first vice president of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU).
Magagula said police could not disclose the nature and details of information that elicited the need to search Mvubu’s home last month.
The police commissioner has written a letter to Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC-Africa) explaining the dawn raid of the unionist’s home.
ITUC is the largest trade union federation in the world and is recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as the mouthpiece for the global workforce during the annual conference usually held in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the letter dated May 12, 2011, Magagula says Mvubu is welcome to come forward for a detailed explanation if the one given at the scene was perceived inadequate.
Copies of the letter have been sent to Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini, Patrick Mamba, the Minister of Labour and Social Security and Secretary General of Trade Unions Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).
As much as police welcomed criticism, the commissioner said they were concerned with insinuation that police went around harassing and intimidating people anyhow.
He said the impression ITUC seemed to have about the police service was regrettable as nothing could be further from the truth. He urged ITUC to thoroughly investigate allegations brought to its attention with impartiality before opting for the medium of disparaging letters.
He said the allegations should not be taken at face value.
He said the police, acting in accordance with the laws of the country, applied for a judicial search warrant, which was granted and proceeded to search the home of the vice president of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU).
Reads the letter in our possession: "This is a natural course of action that was taken as part of processes to investigate the matter and at the same time, determine the veracity and authenticity or otherwise of the information at hand."
He said Mvubu was not a special target on account of his membership to the SFTU.
"This procedure applies to any member of the Swazi society irrespective of his/her affiliation or membership of any entity," partly reads the letter.
He said the allegations of ransacking and scattering of household effects were unfortunate because he had suggested that the search was carried out in a manner consistent with professional ethics and standards.
"However, we have domestic structures available for providing redress in a matter that is a complaint against the police," he said.
He said police were committed to executing duties in a manner that conformed to best regional and international policing practices. Magagula said police were also committed to working harmoniously with worker organisations, civil society groupings, and general Swazi citizenry.
He said they would continue to strive to maintain good relations without compromising the rule of law.
In the issue of Sipho Jele, the late member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), he said he did not die in police custody as alleged by ITUC.
He said he died in the custody of the Correctional Services. He said he was putting the record straight here.
Jele was arrested for wearing a T-shirt for the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) on May 1 2010 at Salesian sports ground during the annual workers’ day celebration.
PUDEMO is a proscribed entity according to government but the movement has been calling for political change in Swaziland. Government believes the group is a terrorist entity that has declared war on the country. It has denied these allegations.
Furthermore, he said, government set up an inquest to probe the cause of his death at the Correctional Services facility where he had been committed on the strength of a judicial committal warrant.
He said the findings had well been publicised and it was common cause that the state apparatus were exonerated from any culpability.
...I’m no criminal – Mvubu
MANZINI – Simon Mvubu has maintained that he had no criminal record to warrant police to search his home for bombs.
He said the explanation given to him at the scene lacked credence and smacked of victimisation and harassment on account of his membership to SFTU. Mvubu said there was no way he could hide bombs in a house occupied by children.
He said the police were totally aware that keeping explosives in a house could have been dangerous to human life.
He said police were aware that he had never seen a bomb or manufactured one but still continued to paint him black before his family.
Mvubu said he was still consulting with his lawyers to ascertain measures and avenues for redress. He said there was no information police had about him that impacted on national security as alleged by the commissioner.