- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2005

MANZINI, Swaziland

You’ve been on the minibus in southern Africa hours past where you should have gotten off.

It’s now dark and the gates have been locked at the hostel where you are staying.

The driver tells you it is not safe to get off the minibus, so he is taking you to the local police station.

For Katherine Wood of Roswell, things were developing into a traveler’s nightmare. Then she visited with officers at the police station in Manzini.

“Where are you from?” one of the officers asked her.

“I live in Roswell, New Mexico,” she replied.

“You’ve got to be kidding. I love Roswell,” said Inspector Patrick Ngwane Mabuza of the Royal Swaziland Police.

Miss Wood, thinking it was too great a coincidence, was certain the police inspector was speaking about another community until Inspector Mabuza began rattling off landmarks in the southeastern New Mexico city.

It turned out that four of the other officers at the Manzini Regional Police Headquarters also had been to Roswell, where they were students at the International Law Enforcement Academy.

The academy is a State Department advanced police-management program operated by New Mexico Tech under a cooperative agreement.

Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and Science Applications International Corp. are partners with New Mexico Tech in the program.

Since classes began in September 2001, the program has graduated 1,714 midlevel and senior law-enforcement officials from 67 countries.

Miss Wood’s adventure began after she checked into a youth hostel on a wildlife preserve in Swaziland, a kingdom that borders South Africa and Mozambique.

She decided to do some shopping, so she walked a mile and a half from the hostel to the main road, where she caught a minibus to a large market. The ride lasted about 15 minutes.

By the time she had checked out of the market, bought a carved wooden giraffe for her mother and eaten lunch, it was almost 5 p.m.

“I wanted to get back in daylight,” said Miss Wood, explaining that she didn’t want to be walking through the wildlife preserve in the dark.

When she boarded a minibus for the return trip, she said, she pronounced the name of her stop to the driver, though, she now thinks: “I may have mispronounced it.”

After riding what seemed too long, Miss Wood learned she had missed her stop. The driver told her it was not safe for her to get off the bus to catch one heading the other way.

The driver asked Miss Wood to remain on the bus until he reached the end of the route. He dropped her off at the police station at about 7 p.m.

“I didn’t have my passport with me. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Miss Wood, who was feeling tired and frustrated. After making the Roswell connection, Inspector Mabuza drove her to his home to meet his wife and two daughters.

“They were very nice,” Miss Wood said. A short time later, Inspector Mabuza, a woman from the police station and Miss Wood were on their way to the youth hostel in the police car.

“He knew a back way to the hostel” and was able to get past the security barrier put up at night, she said. Mr. Wood said Inspector Mabuza “was very kind and generous. He didn’t think twice about driving the four-hour round trip.”

After her return to the United States, Miss Wood sent Inspector Mabuza and his family a gift box of Roswell alien items. She received a postcard with a message of thanks. Since then, she has become acquainted with students from other countries attending the academy.

Inspector Mabuza’s class attended the academy from late September to mid-October last year. The current class is made up of 50 delegates from Botswana, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Uganda.

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