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OPERATION BOPHA: Stray tear gas canister leaves 80 year-old woman struggling to breath

Sunday, 10th January, 2021

MBABANE: Nonhlanhla Dlamini of Sidvwashini is seeking justice for her 80 year-old mother Nomsa Dlamni after a stray tear gas canister left her struggling to breath for a whole a night.
Speaking to this Swaziland News, Nonhlanhla revealed that on Saturday, police officers dispersed a crowd that was enjoying alcoholic beverages at kaQobonga using tear gas canisters during the on-going ‘Operation Bopha’, unfortunately one of the canisters went astray through a house belonging to her 80 year old mother.
“My mother was not even part of the dispersed crowd, she was at home watching television when the canister pierced through the wall and exploded inside the house, everyone subsequently evacuated the house. I tried calling the police but my call wasn’t answered, it was then that I drove to the Mbabane Police Station. The police first gave me an attitude as they thought I was just an attention seeker, when we got back home we found my mother sprawling on the ground struggling to breathe. The police took the teargas canister, they refused to take my mother to hospital but instructed us to call an ambulance”, she said.
She further revealed that when they called 977 they were told there was no ambulance available, the police left the scene without recording a statement, she followed them to the police station to report to their superiors as to what actually transpired.
“This time I was attended by officer number 4716 who identified himself as Sergeant Khanyile , he insisted that recording a statement was unnecessary but they will write a report instead. I went back home, and a new contingent of police officers woke us up at about 2 am to record a statement, they said our case number is 609/1.I will be taking up this matter with my lawyers, my mother was left homeless for a night and also did not receive medical attention due to the police negligence. What is more baffling is that my mother’s house is about a kilometre from the spot where the police dispersed the crowd”, he said.
Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, the Eswatini Police Spokesperson had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi , a human rights lawyer condemned the public’s reckless behaviour of drinking alcoholic beverages in groups especially at a time when the Nation when the country and the world was faced with the COVID-19 second wave.
“Let me start by rebuking the public’s behaviour during these hard times, people shouldn’t be drinking alcohol in groups as this is letting us down as a country in the fight against COVID 19.The police were enforcing the lockdown regulations, but they should have handled this properly by taking the old woman to hospital. It should be understood that taking her to hospital doesn’t necessarily mean they are guilty as this is not up to them to decide, but only a court of law can find them guilty" said the human rights lawyer.
Government, through Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku banned all gatherings in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis as part of a partial lockdown, this was after King Mswati dispersed members of the regiments who attended the recently held Incwala ritual ceremony that was attended by hundreds of citizens.


OPERATION BOPHA: Stray tear gas canister leaves 80 year-old woman struggling to breath
Gogo Nomsa Dlamini