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Police shoot at two journalists as Eswatini protests rage

1 Jul, 2021

What happened

Two Eswatini journalists were hospitalised after they were allegedly shot at by security services, as pro-democracy protests continue to rage in that country.

Independent News reporter, Andile Langwenya, had to be hospitalised at the Mbabane Government Hospital after he was allegedly tear-gassed by police at Msunduza, Mbabane, last Friday.

The news outlet’s editor, Mfanasibili Sihlongonyane, told MISA that Langwenya was covering the protests when he was assaulted and shot by the police.

“He was hospitalised for two days after being shot and assaulted by the police,” Sihlongwane explained.

The following day, Wonderboy Dlamini, a reporter for the Swazi Observer, was allegedly shot at by a police officer, and also had to be treated at the hospital before being discharged.

Dlamini was covering protests in the Lugongolweni constituency when he was shot at.

“I was covering a protest where there were about 200 protesters,” he told MISA. “The police fired teargas and the protesters fled, but I remained where I was.

“I actually saw the police officer loading his gun and I shouted that I was a journalist. I do not know whether he heard, but he fired the teargas canister towards me.

“I think he was going for my head, but I had already covered my head with my hands when he fired and the canister hit my hand.

MISA's position

MISA is extremely worried about the seemingly deteriorating situation and developments in Eswatini, where freedom of expression and of the media is increasingly under threat.

It is our well-considered view that there has always been a deliberate ploy to target the media, even well before the protests, which has since escalated during the ongoing demonstrations.

We urge the authorities and the police to ensure the safety and security of journalists and allow the media to operate freely regardless of the protests, and desist from targeting journalists for simply doing their job of covering events as they unfold.

Media violations have the effect of hampering the free flow of information. The free flow of information, even during protests, is critical as this will help citizens understand what is happening while also allowing the government to communicate directly with its citizens.

It is also particularly worrying that these attacks on journalists also come at a time when the government has restricted access to the internet.

About MISA

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1992. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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