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WanaData Africa

Fact Check - Did the Government of Eswatini Declare War Upon Protesters?

By Nyakerario Omari

This tweet went up on the internet on July 2, tagging a letter allegedly from the government of the Eswatini Kingdom. In this letter, a stern warning is given to any protester in the country. It further adds that armed forces have allegedly been deployed to secure assets belonging to King Mswati III. Listing these assets, the letter signs off with the acting Prime Minister’s name, Themba N. Masuku.

Background

Amidst the growing tension caused by anti-monarchy protests in the Eswatini kingdom, the government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew that runs from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Businesses are also required to close by 3 p.m. while normal learning in school has been suspended.

Amnesty International reports that the ongoing pro-democracy protests have had many people killed. By July 2, 2021, at least 20 people were killed and six other lives are unaccounted for. More than 150 protesters are being treated for gunshot wounds.

Verification

To identify whether this letter has been altered, we ran it through an error level analysis on Forensically. From these results, there are two contrasting compressions. The letterhead and the sign-off, contrast from the body and date.

(See screengrab below)

The same day this letter was shared as a tweet, the government of the kingdom of Eswatini flagged it as misleading.

(See screengrab below)

Further, a letter shared on the government’s official Twitter handle maintained that as it respects the full expression of all constitutional rights, including the right to protest, it does not support the attacks on citizens’ property.

“The damage to property that has occurred does not only affect livelihoods, it further puts the Kingdom’s efforts to mitigate and minimize the economic challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic at jeopardy.” The letter reads.

Verdict

This letter alleged to have been shared by the government of Eswatini is FALSE.

This story was produced by Africa Uncensored in partnership with Code for Africa with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.

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WanaData is a Pan-African network of female journalists, data scientists and techies working on changing the digital media landscape by producing and promoting data-driven news while applying digital technologies in their storytelling.

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