Bishop in Eswatini Bemoans Killings of Police, Reiterates Call for “national dialogue”

Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of Eswatini's Manzini Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of Eswatini’s Manzini Diocese has bemoaned the killings of security officers in the Southern African Kingdom.

In his Wednesday, October 19 statement shared with ACI Africa, Bishop José Luís Gerardo Ponce de León  who reiterates calls for “national dialogue” condemns the reported killing of two policemen in Manzini in “broad daylight” and cautions the people of God in Eswatini against seeking “violence as the only possible solution.”

“October 18, 2022, saw in Manzini the killing of another two members of the police in broad daylight,” Bishop Ponce de León says, and adds, “Killings seem to have become part of our ordinary lives.”

He continues, “Choosing death is also seen through other forms of violence: arson attacks, destruction of property, instilling of fear, lack of spaces to voice just cries, tear gas, calls to meet violence with more violence even through the use of Biblical passages as if God could support choosing death over life.”

The Argentine-born member of the Consolata Missionaries (IMC) who has been at the helm of Manzini Diocese since his installation in January 2014 decries the killings targeting security officers, saying, “It is clear we no longer see in each other the God in whose image we have been created (Gen 1:27) and With Cain we sarcastically ask: 'Am I my brother keeper?”


“We have taken God's place as creator, deciding on the lives of others. We have rejected him as Father as we no longer see each other as brothers and sisters but have chosen the ‘blame game’ labelling others as adversaries, terrorists, oppressors, enemies,” he adds.

The 61-year-old Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 2009 further says, “A society that accepts this level of violence is condemned to experience even higher levels of it which can only generate more death and suffering.”

In the October 19 statement, Bishop Ponce de León reiterates the call by the Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC) for national dialogue that was proposed last year to address the political situation in the country.

 He says, “It was at the very peak of the violence the country was experiencing in 2021 that the Council of Swaziland Churches called for a national dialogue in order to defuse it.”

“Every family knows that, experiencing tension and conflict, the only way forward is to sit down and listen to each other and together discern the way forward,” he says.

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The Local Ordinary of the only Catholic Diocese in Eswatini notes that the word "dialogue" initially "postponed" now seems to have "disappeared" “from our vocabulary; I still believe that dialogue is the only possible answer.”

He laments the anger felt by Emaswati, especially the youth “as they see no answers to their frustration and no spaces to voice them.”

The youth in Eswatini, Bishop Ponce de León says, “feel that some are full citizens but others second class ones. Some seem to have access to every opportunity in the country and the rest to the leftovers. In their restlessness they can be easily deceived by those who offer them violence as the only possible solution,” the Catholic Church leader says.

He goes on to express his gratitude to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) for “opening spaces for dialogue in local communities and for launching peace clubs in some of the Catholic High Schools helping our young people to be formed in non-violence.”

Bishop Ponce de León also expresses gratitude to the Diocesan commitment for offering “counseling to the victims of any violence being experienced. It is a sign that like the Good Samaritan, we choose to have compassion, stop on our journey and come close to those lying on the road to offer them healing.”


Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.