Armed royal guards harass, assault journalists
By MAKHOSI MAGONGO
MATSAPHA — Officers from the Royal Guard, known as the Close Protection Unit, had strict instructions to ensure that members of the public and the media should not see the arrival of Emakhosikati, [the wives of King Mswati III] and the luggage they brought home.
Interestingly, this only happened on Tuesday, and not on Wednesday when the king returned.
Attempts by journalists from this publication to take photographs of the Emakhosikati’s arrival provoked physical harassment from two officers from the Unit, when they forcefully grabbed a camera from photojournalist, Walter Dlamini, albeit after a scuffle.
During the scuffle over the camera, Times SUNDAY driver, Felix Dlamini, who tried to assist Walter, was injured on the ribcage.
The officers took the camera after Walter had taken photos of a crowd of people who had been chucked out of the public viewing area, often used by people who go to the airport to see their relatives off. He also attempted to take pictures
The officer, stone-faced and whose name could not be established, ensured that no one entered the area—lodged the attack in full view of members of the public briefly abandoned his post and charged after our photographer, demanding that the photographs taken should be deleted in his presence.
When it was explained to him that his request would not be entertained, he grabbed the camera, while Walter held on to it. The officer was joined by an armed colleague (both plane clothed) and a mini fight ensued, as Felix joined to assist Dlamini, however, the former was grabbed and thrown on the floor—wrestling style. Eventually, the officers displayed their fighting skills as they managed to leave with the camera.
The matter was reported to the police, who returned the camera to our newsroom through Police Spokesman Superintendent Vusi Masuku and Assistant Superintendent Musa Zwane.
"It was handed to our officers at the Airport by security agents from the army. There were no details as to how they got hold of it," he said.
A charge of theft and assault has been registered with the Sigodvweni Police Station.
Not only were locals prevented from seeing Emakhosikati, but tourists were also denied any chance to see them alight from a chattered jet.
Outside the airport premises, a crowd of alleged protestors waited patiently for the Emakhosikati motorcade to leave the airport. With security tight, Emakhosikati and members of their delegation were quietly chauffeured out of the airport’s VIP area, leaving airport personnel and security agents to off-load their luggage.