Monday, November 10, 2008


Swazi soldiers have taken it upon themselves to become guardians of law and order in Swaziland.

They have been trying to stamp pout prostitution in Manzini, Swaziland’s second city.

Despite the fact that soldiers are among prostitutes’ best clients, a group of armed soldiers have been harassing ‘working girls’ on the streets.

In one case six sex workers were rounded up and physically and sexually abused by soldiers. One of their male clients was forced to perform a degrading sex act for the amusement of the soldiers.

An official army spokesman refused to comment on whether the action of the soldiers was a legitimate use of the military.

The Times Sunday reported yesterday (9 November 2008) that three prostitutes had gone to a regular spot on the Manzini streets excepting trade one night when an army car parked near them.

One of the women takes up the story, ‘Some of the girls we found there took off when the car pulled up. One soldier ordered all three of us to jump into the back of the car. He emphasised that we should bring condoms.’

The Times Sunday reported, ‘The three ladies were under the impression that the soldiers were just being aggressive, which is a characteristic of their job. They actually thought they would be taken to a private spot or their (soldiers) quarters to carry out business.

‘However, that was not to be so.’

The soldiers drove the women to a popular pub where they demanded that they identify other commercial sex workers, which they did. The soldiers then drove six of the prostitutes to Trelawny Park. Along the way they picked up one of their regular male clients.

At the park the soldiers ordered them all out of the car where they kicked and abused the women. The soldiers said the women were ‘paying for selling our bodies to willing customers’.

The women were then ordered to lower their pants and demonstrate to the soldiers how they entertain men. The man was forced to dig a hole and the soldiers ‘ordered him to insert his manhood, and pretend he was with a woman’.

The soldiers then beat the women with sticks and shrubs.

When questioned by the Times Sunday, Army spokesman Major Dumsani Masuku said ‘he did not have enough time to consult’.

However, the newspaper reported, some soldiers have been deployed to public facilities that in Swaziland that are considered susceptible to terrorist attacks. Masuku was non-committal with regards to their role in other crimes such as prostitution, and the appropriate course of action in the event they come across other forms of crime.

It is hard to see what the Army spokesperson’s problem is here. Clearly, it is not the job of the Army to ‘police’ the streets of Swaziland. The soldiers were acting illegally and should themselves be subjected to the law. We could start with charging them with abduction and sexual assault.

Meanwhile, we need a clear statement from Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini that the Army has no place in policing Swaziland. The Army’s job is to protect Swaziland against external enemies. Soldiers should not be unleashed on the general public to ‘clean up the streets’.

I doubt that such a statement will be forthcoming from Dlamini. He is himself an illegally-appointed Prime Minister and the last time he was in office from 1996 to 2003, he unleashed a reign of terror against the Swazi people and showed a complete disregard for the rule of law in Swaziland.

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