The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns the reported kidnapping of students in Swaziland by the state security forces this morning at 10am. According to the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), “up to now their whereabouts is still not known”.
The comrades are:
- Pius Vilakati, the president of Students representative Council at the University of Swaziland,
- Maxwell Dlamini, National Organizing Secretary of the Swaziland National Union of Students,
- Sipho Simelane, SRC member at the University and
- Thembela Ngcamphalala also vice chairperson of Kwaluseni branch of SNUS and branch organizing secretary of SNUS Kwaluseni.”
This is related to the on-going class boycotts by the students which led to the closure of the only University in the country and other five tertiary education institutions in the country which are SCOT, William Pitcher, Ngwane Teacher Training College, Nazarene Teacher Training and Nursing College in the past week.
This follows a brave show of courage and defiance by students under SNUS to challenge the oppressive regime and defend their right to learn. The students have organised activities that have become known as the January movement, wherein they ensured that they mobilise all students and the whole country around the need to defend access to quality education for all and the urgency of democratising the country as part of transforming not only education, but the entirety of Swazi society.
The demands of the students include:
- Registration of SNUS as the official voice of students,
- Increase in personal allowances, Scrapping off the scholarship policy which is currently in draft form and denies many students from poor background the possibility of further education and training
- Provision of free primary and quality education for all primary school pupils.
We are further told that here was a proposed meeting for the students of Swaziland where the state made all efforts by using force to stop the meeting.
The message about today’s arrests and disappearances came through while South African Civil society was holding a meeting at the South African Council of Churches (SACC) headquarters in Johannesburg to receive final report on preparations towards the historic launch of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) taking place next week between South African and Swazi organisations here in Johannesburg.
The meeting conveyed its profound solidarity and salutations to the students and urged them to soldier on, knowing well that the world is fully behind them. The meeting went on to call upon South African organisations; students, youth, churches, NGOs, trade unions, political parties and all social movements to join the call to do something decisive in support of the suffering people of Swaziland. This confirmed the urgency of a global campaign for democracy in Swaziland, hence the importance of the efforts underway to co-ordinate a sustained and effective movement for a new and democratic Swaziland.
We urge everyone to phone the Swazi Police Commissioner to register your concern and increase pressure for their release. He is:
Tel: +268 404 2502
For more details contact:
Philani Ndebele (Media and Communications Officer
ACTION Support Centre
Mobile: 076 942 3565 or
Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940
Mobile: +27 79 499 6419