Swaziland Police Force Schoolchildren Back to Classes After Boycott Supporting Suspended Teachers

Police were called when pupils at Mhubhe High School in Swaziland / eSwatini boycotted classes in support of two of their teachers who had been suspended from duty.

The pupils at the school in Ngulwini gathered around the school yard, singing and chanting for about four hours. The Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (24 May 2019), they were 'demanding that the suspended teachers at the school be brought back to resume their duties'.

The two suspended teachers are Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President Mbongwa Dlamini and John Hoffman, who is also a union activist.

SNAT has accused the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) of an attack on the union for suspending Dlamini who is accused of absenteeism from school.

SNAT said in a statement, , 'Chief amongst these charges is becoming a union leader and participating in legitimate trade union activities.'

There have been disturbances at the school in recent weeks after pupils demonstrated against some teachers who they said were sexually abusing them. Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at the pupils.

Six pupils were later charged with theft and destruction of property. They were denied bail and remanded in custody. An online petition organised by Swaziland Human Rights Network UK called for their release on bail. The pupils were later released on bail.

Teachers boycotted classes for two days because they felt insulted to be accused of sexual misconduct. They returned to work on the instruction of MoET.

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