Alert: Protest

Location:  Mbabane

Event:   Public Servants Associations (PSAs) plan to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Public Service in Mbabane on Wednesday, October 20th.  The group will meet at Coronation Park at approximately 9:00 a.m.  PSAs will begin the march to deliver the petition at 10:00 a.m. using the following route: Msakato street to Zwide street; Zwide street to Mahlokohla street; Mahlokohla street to Makhosikhisi road; Makhosikhisi road to Sozisa road; Sizisa road to Umlilo street leading to the public service block of government offices.  There is no indication at this time that the petition delivery will be violent.  However, as we continue to see, these situations are unpredictable and demonstrations or police response can quickly become violent with little to no warning.  Travelers may want to avoid the demonstration routes and the Central Business District (CBD) of Mbabane Wednesday morning.

Ongoing Strike Action

On Monday October 19, a new tactic in the transportation strike was used where striking taxi drivers and conductors attempted to stop vehicles that appeared to be carrying individuals that would otherwise use taxis, forcing them to pay a toll for riding in an impromptu taxi.  Later the same drivers changed tactics and joined groups attempting to hitchhike.  Once picked up by good Samaritan drivers, the striking taxi drivers demanded the good Samaritan pay a fine of E100 for picking up hitchhikers in defiance of the strike.

Protest Guidance 

Protests can break out at anytime and anywhere – a frightening reality for all travelers and expats.  This message will provide tips to help you avoid civil unrest while traveling, and how to avoid getting caught up in the situation.

Disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic can be expected and all are reminded that even peaceful demonstrations and protests can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  Travelers should avoid demonstration areas and exercise caution if you find yourself around any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

Caught on Foot in a Protest

 

  • If you find yourself caught up in a protest or riot keep to the edge of the crowd where it is safest. Try not to be identified as one of the demonstrators by keeping well away from the leaders/agitators.
  • At the first opportunity break away and seek refuge in a nearby building, or find a suitable doorway or alley and stay there until the crowd passes.
  • When leaving the fringe of the demonstration just walk away – don’t run as this will draw attention to yourself.
  • If you are caught up in the crowd, stay clear of glass shop fronts, stay on your feet, and move with the flow.
  • If you are swept along in the crush, create a space for yourself by grasping your wrists and bracing your elbows away from your sides; bend over slightly – this should allow you breathing room.
  • If pushed to the ground, try to get against a wall and roll yourself into a tight ball and cover your head with your hands until the crowd passes.
  • Remember to keep calm – the crowd should sweep past in a short space of time.
  • If shooting breaks out, drop to the ground, and cover your head and neck, and lie as flat as you can.

In a Vehicle

  • If you see a roadblock, immediately turn around and choose another route. Do not attempt to drive closer to the roadblock.
  • · · Never drive through a crowd.
  • If you find yourself in the path of a crowd, turn down the nearest side road, reverse or turn around and drive away calmly.
  • If you cannot drive away, park the car, lock it, and leave it, taking shelter in a side street or doorway.
  • If you don’t have time for this, stop and turn the engine off. Lock the doors and remain calm. Be sure not  to show hostility or anger

 

Safety in your Accomodation

Here’s what to do if a protest or riot has broken out while you are at a hotel, guesthouse, AirBNB or home:

  • Do not leave the accommodation or go into the street.
  • On hearing gunfire or explosions outside, stay away from the windows.  Do not be tempted to watch the activity from your window.  Draw the curtains or blinds to prevent shards of broken glass entering
  •  If you are in premises that have doors or windows opening on to the roadside of the property, ensure that   all  windows and external doors are closed and locked.
  • Sleep in an inside room which will provide greater protection from rocks or gunfire.
  •  If a demonstration is taking place outside your hotel, liaise with hotel management to keep updated on the situation outside the hotel

Assistance:

U.S. Embassy in Eswatini/Swaziland

Corner of MR103 and Cultural Center Drive, Ezulwini

+268 2417 9000 – PRESS TWO

+268 7602 8414 (after hours duty officer for emergencies)

ConsularMbabane@state.gov

https://sz.usembassy.gov/



State Department, Consular Affairs

888-407 4747  or  202-501-4444

Swaziland/Eswatini country information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Swaziland.html

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates:  https://step.state.gov/step/  or provide the consular section with your name and contact information by email or telephone.