Sunday, February 15, 2009


My report on Tuesday about Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, and his bogus doctorate raised a few eyebrows.

I told how Dlamini was an honorary doctorate of laws. I have no idea why the University of Swaziland felt he deserved such a title when he completely disregarded the rule of law when he was Prime Minister of Swaziland from1996 to 2003.

Amnesty International has researched a lot about Barnabas Dlamini and his first time in office as Prime Minister.

In a report on Swaziland that runs for about fifty thousand words (not so much a report, more a book), Amnesty looks back to the years 2002 and 2003 and identifies activities of Dlamini that ‘included the repeated ignoring of court rulings, interference in court proceedings, intimidating judicial officers, manipulating terms and conditions of employment to undermine the independence of the judiciary, the effective replacement of the Judicial Services Commission with an unaccountable and secretive body (officially known as the Special Committee on Justice but popularly called the Thursday Committee), and the harassment of individuals whose rights had been upheld by the courts.’

Amnesty notes that ‘these events triggered mass protest demonstrations in Swaziland’.

In September 2003, Amnesty wrote to Barnabas Dlamini following allegations of misuse of force by police and members of the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) against demonstrators and bystanders in Mbabane in 2003. Amnesty said there were reports ‘that police and members of OSSU used excessive force against trade unionists and others who had assembled early on 13 August to participate in a lawful protest march in terms of the Industrial Relations Act.

‘Our inquiries so far have led us to conclude that the actions taken by the security forces to break up the demonstration violated the rights to peaceful assembly and expression of political opinion. In addition we have concluded that the security forces dispersed the demonstrators with excessive force, causing injuries to demonstrators as well as to bystanders.’

Amnesty called the assault by police ‘particularly violent and aggressive. Innocent pedestrians and bystanders were also assaulted. People ran helter skelter into the roads and into nearby shops. The police pursued the fleeing workers, beating them furiously. Many people were injured and suffered bruises, lacerations and wounds….The assault by the police was unprovoked and unnecessary’.

Amnesty goes on, ‘Our inquiries so far have indicated that the police used disproportionate force in dispersing the demonstrators and in some cases inflicted gratuitous violence on bystanders or appeared to be targeting individuals for systematic beatings amounting to the infliction of torture.

‘Eyewitnesses have informed Amnesty International that they saw the police and other members of the security forces beating people with batons and gun-butts. One witness stated that as he came out of a shop in Mbabane at about 11.30 am he saw police “flogging” people with baton sticks and questioning people about why they were there.

‘The witness said that these were “ordinary people going about their business” and were not marchers. An example was a woman with a baby on her back who was hit with a baton on the right side of her neck and on her buttocks by a police officer. She stood “confused” and in a state of shock after being hit. The witness also saw police beating other people at the bus rank and in the shopping plaza.’

Amnesty goes on to give specific details of police violence from a number of witnesses and called for those who engaged in excessive force or violence to be ‘brought to justice and the victims compensated’.

You can guess what didn’t happen next ...

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