There have been protests in Eswatini for several weeks following allegations of police brutality. Video footage is circulating of local stores and looted and torched trucks.
It was reported that King Mswati III fed the country, but the government has denied this.
The Eswatini government has denied reports that King Mswati III left the country to flee violent, pro-democracy protests.
“Following the false media reports circulating, I would like to take this opportunity to assure emaSwati and the international community that His Majesty King Mswati III is in the country and continues to lead in working with government to advance the kingdom’s goals,” said Acting Prime Minister Thema Masuku in a statement Tuesday morning.
“Government will update the nation on interventions on the current situation as the day progresses. In the meantime we appeal for calm, restraint and peace from all emaSwati,” he added.
SABC and Swaziland News reported that the king fled after the protests erupted.
The protests, in which trucks were torched and looted, flared up several days ago after the monarchy and government issued a decree banning the delivery of petitions that called for democratic reforms, Swaziland News reported.
However, Eswatini government spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini said “the reports about the king fleeing are completely untrue and fake”.
The army was reportedly deployed to areas of unrest on Monday night after trucks – some of them belonging to South African companies – were torched over the weekend and shops were looted in the rural town of Siphofaneni, Times of Swaziland reported.
A video is doing the rounds of a burning truck near Phuzumoya ad protesters using burning tyres to block the road. The footage showed some protestors offloading cargo – believed to be sugar – before the truck was set alight.
Other videos showed protestors outside a burning building.
The pro-democracy protests escalated after dozens of students marched to Eswatini’s Parliament to demand justice for a young man believed to have been killed by the police.
Thabani Nkomonye’s body was found on a field in Nhlambeni, about 10km outside Manzini, on May 14.
Colani Khulekani Maseko, the president of the Swaziland National Students’ Union, previously told News24 that they were demanding the end of police brutality and a multi-party democracy “in which the police are accountable to the people and not only to the king”. – News24/Agencies