January 30, 2012

Students clash with police / Student leader Dlamini released on bail

Police fired teargas on students protesting against their university’s failure to open for the semester. Several people were injured. At least four demonstrators were arrested by the police after students of the University of Swaziland, the country’s only university, vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers from a teachers college who refused to join their protest. “Students found that the source of their problems … is the way the country is governed. We have agreed to dismantle the way this country is governed as a matter of urgent priority,” student leader Xolile Mdluli said.
Before the protest, the university had announced that it would not be able to open as scheduled, the second time in two semesters it has postponed its opening. It needs 22 million emalangeni (2.1 million euros) a month for administrative, maintenance and salary costs and has struggled to stay afloat this academic year. It has not released results of first-semester exams taken in December, and first-year students have not received their allowances from the government. The university has three campuses and a combined student population of about 7,000.

In the meantime Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (NUS), has been released on bail. He is reportedly doing well and sends his thanks to everyone who has supported him. The money for the 50.000 Rand bail (€5000) – the largest bail ever in Swazi legal history – was raised by Maxwell’s father, Nimrod Dlamini, and local and international solidarity movements. Maxwell Dlamini was detained, allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and charged of possession of explosives last April in connection with one of the largest protests against Swaziland’s monarchy in many years, the so-called April 12 Uprising. (sadocc/Actsa)

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