Some members of the Swaziland Parliament say they should not be arrested if they break the law because they are ‘Very Important People.’
They are particularly aggrieved that police officers have been arresting them for what the MPs call ‘petty crimes’.
This emerged from the kingdom’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs portfolio committee.
The Swazi Observer reported, ‘As dignified citizens, members of parliament have declared they do not want to be arrested on the streets for petty crimes.’
The newspaper added, ‘According to the MPs, it was very embarrassing for them to be held on the streets for petty crimes because as legislators, they would not run away from the hands of justice.’
The Observer said, ‘They said once one became a member of parliament, they fell under the category of very important persons (VIPs) and it would be a shocker to have someone in this category run away from his or her crime because they were known.’
It added, ‘Of major concern from the legislators was the fact that some of the police officers who were found on roadblocks did not even recognise who they were with regards to their status.
‘They alleged that they were treated in a bad way such that one felt embarrassed that being an MP did not even accord them any status.’
A police spokesperson told the newspaper that for the time being police would continue arresting individuals found to be on the wrong side of the law, regardless of their position.
The Observer, which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘According to the constitution, only His Majesty the King and the Queen Mother are above the law.’