Saturday, April 24, 2010


In his birthday speech this week King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said he wanted ‘a special birthday gift’ – peace.

What a pity the army whose main task in life is keeping him in power, didn’t deliver.

Instead, we have yet another case of soldiers beating up innocent civilians.

This time it was a security guard who was just doing his job.

The 25-year-old was working at the Mahhala Shopping Complex when he saw a bus loaded with soldiers parked at the wrong place. He asked them to move to the correct place.

No big deal you would’ve thought. But you weren’t counting on King Mswati’s finest. Instead of moving the bus a few metres the soldiers got aggressive. Fearing for his safety the guard made a hasty retreat. But that wasn’t good enough for the soldiers.

Instead the soldiers chased after the guard, caught him and beat him so badly he may lose all his teeth. One report said there were about 20 soldiers involved in the attack, another said it was nearer 70.

This is not the first time in recent months King Mswati’s soldiers have shown they are out of control.

In January 2010 I reported how soldiers murdered two civilians in an execution-style killing,

In the same month soldiers refused to pay prostitutes for their services and then beat them up.

In December 2009, a group of soldiers went to the home of a man and beat him to a pulp over a personal grudge.

In the same month, Swazi soldiers pumped five bullets into the body of a man they suspected of smuggling cars. And they beat the man to a pulp before they opened fire.

Peace? In Swaziland? Who does the king think he's kidding?

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